Under most circumstances, renting out your home to a tourist is illegal under New York state law. But that doesn’t mean that many people get punished for breaking the law. In fact, the New York World looked at data from the past few months and found that the city fines a minuscule number of people suspected of renting out their homes on a short-term basis. They also mapped the complaints that people have made against their neighbors for breaking the short-term rental law; we’ve embedded the map below.
(The law, which is pretty controversial on the UWS, is meant to keep buildings from becoming filled with transient people. There is heated debate over whether it’s fair, and whether it’s pushing landlords to turn their buildings into homeless shelters.)
From July 4 until October 1, the news site found that about 167,000 people used short-term rental site Airbnb to rent apartments in the city. During that time, neighbors filed 261 complaints about people illegally renting out their homes, and city investigators found violations in only 21 cases (and some of those fines were actually for unrelated issues). “As a matter of practice, the Office for Special Enforcement only investigates when it receives reports, a spokesman for the city indicated, which can be made through the city’s 311 hotline, or directly to the office,” the World says.
Not all short-term rentals are illegal — if the resident is staying in the home at the time of the rental, for instance, it’s okay.
The news site put together a map showing the locations of complaints against people suspected of renting out their homes to tourists or other short-term renters. The exact addresses are redacted. By our count, there are 17 spots in the neighborhood. Check it out to see if there are underground hotels on your block!
How does one lodge a complaint about a property listed on airbnb or something similar? 311 didn’t seem to know what to do. We weren’t sure what category it should be. Not sure if complaint actually got filed.
Why would anyone care and want to file a complaint? So nosey….
Dear Who Cares,
Because resident owners and families or individuals who actually live full-time in the apartment they own or lease have a right (supported by law) to live without un-vetted, unscreened individuals or groups of individuals who found the apartment next door to theirs on the internet and have now moved in for a weekend or a week or three weeks to do what ever they please. While that could be visiting the Statue of Liberty it could also be something that would never be tolerated by a hotel or legal bed and breakfast. The resident-owners and renters who make apartments their full-time homes don’t want this kind of activity in their lobbies. hallways and residences. That’s why.
Comment to Ellen,
If your living in an SRO building you best not complain. The reason for this is because new laws created by Gale Brewer, Linda Rosenthal and Liz Kruger have mandated these types of buildings to rent for 30 days instead the 7 days it used to be. The relevance is that this dysfunctional law makes it impossible for Owners of such buildings to lease out their rooms for such an extended amount of time. The new law did not do what the politicians had in mind to do. What the law did was to induce Owners to rent their buildings to homeless shelters simply because they have no other choice to do so unless they rent their units illegally. This is why we all see the influx of homeless shelters on the Upper West Side predominately and less in other areas of the city.
The UWS has become a dumping ground for homeless folks. I am not saying that this use group should suffer and be left on the street. All New Yorkers should fairly share the bourdon and not leave one community to suffer with most of the agony created in this once wonderful area to live. The immediate answer to this serious problem is to roll back the law to allow 7 day stays. In the alternative the politicians whom are squarely to blame for this mess should work to “grandfather” these SRO buildings back to the status they were legally operating under for some 60-70 years.
Simply put the People of The Upper West Side want Tourists Not Tzuris (problems) in the area. All UPW siders should send a clear message to our Pols letting them know we’re fed up with their mistake and the horrifying conditions we are subjected to day and night. Gale, Liz and Linda et al FESS UP! Fix this problem now! You got us into it! You get us out of it! Your law backfired!
One wonders how many of the folks complaining are the same folks who sublet their own apartments, have lots of friends and relatives stay over (who are just as capable as strangers of causing problems in a building) and who obey every rule re apartments in NYC?
There’s a case to be made for not allowing people to rent out their homes 24/7, 365 a year. That’s running a bnb, not merely subletting a space to reuse for another purpose.
Why not seek a compromise where such rentals require some form of oversight and responsibility from the tenants who rent out in this manner; that limit the number of days a month or year you can rent them out, and that allow the city to get some sort of fee for this (because you know, if the city can get money, it will be OK to do this!)
There are a lot of people who travel who simply cannot afford the prices of NYC hotels (and the incredible add-on taxes). People who offer these rentals are offering a needed service. Yes, there does need to be regulation on both ends.
The idea that this increases the number of strangers (and potential danger or problems) given the number of people who are allowed into an average person’s apartment during the week, month and year for social and other gatherings has yet to be demonstrated.
True, there are probably some people who never live in these places and only rent out and that should be forbidden.
The person who rents out has to have some stake in the outcome, so that they really work to vet ahead of time and to hold the folks who stay responsible for any/all damage to apartment and building.
Listen. You have people in posh park avenue apartments who’ve been robbed latedly and they have 24/7 security. So that should tell you something. The people who already have entry to a building are far more likely to cause problems than most strangers.
FYI: I live in a building where I have seen more strangers in the building, living there, and know that co-op owners have illegally rented out their spaces. You don’t ever see them and they get no mail. Why should they get away with basically having a slew of folks coming/going (especially folks in theatrical businesses) but someone can’t rent out their apt or a room for a few nights?
This is not a map of the UWS!? You’ve gotta be nuts!
The whole story is misleading. There’s a law suit going on against airbnb by the City. Only city in the whole world that this seems to be problematical. Total bull. Owners of apartments who rent out an extra room are being targeted even though they’re present during the guests’ stay. Great system. I stayed with people in Europe through airbnb and it’s a terrific idea. Cheap, and you have someone to guide you
This is not a map of the UWS!? You’ve gotta be nuts!
The whole story is misleading. There’s a law suit going on against airbnb by the City. Only city in the whole world that this seems to be problematical. Total bull. Owners of apartments who rent out an extra room are being targeted even though they’re present during the guests’ stay. Great system. I stayed with people in Europe through airbnb and it’s a terrific idea. Cheap, and you have someone to help you get around the town you’re visiting. Brilliant! If amerikans were’s so xenophobic and narrow minded, they’d take advantage of this terrific opportunity and visit other cities throughout the world instead and hanging around and complaining.
Memo to Jules and anyone else who thinks this is OK:
There is not a coop or condo in the City whose governing documents permit renting individual rooms in your apartment by the day or week – or the apartment as a whole short term – ever, or long-term ( a year or more ) without Board review and approval. You want to rent out rooms in the house you own in Queens or the townhouse you own by yourself on the UWS? God bless – that is between you and the City (and the City says it is illegal).
But if you start renting your apartment in the condo or coop where I own mine, to a group of strangers who found it on the internet, in the paper or wherever – then I do have a problem with that. It is illegal, a violation of your bylaws and/or priority lease; unnecessarily strains and wears out building systems I have to pay to maintain and replace and unnecessarily distracts the building staff dealing with your renters, their suitcases and their lock-outs. I will do everything I can to stop you from renting in my building by the day, week or month.
I hope that clarifies.
This map is wrong – my apt is for rent and its not showing up!