Illegal Short-Term Rentals Could Be In Your Neighborhood

Find out what an illegal short-term rental is and how it’s hurting your neighborhood.

If you think there’s an illegal short-term rental in your building  you can call us anytime, 24 hrs/day to speak to a real person: (646) 979-4117

The Law

In June 2016, the NYS Legislature passed new legislation — A.8704-C/S.6340-A — to strengthen existing prohibitions in the Multiple Dwelling Law against illegal short-term rentals that are significantly contributing to New York City’s affordable housing crisis, and driving up rents in communities across the city.

Since its passage in 2010, the Multiple Dwelling Law has explicitly prohibited the rental of unoccupied residential housing units in multi-unit (3 or more) buildings in New York City. However, the advertising of these illegal rentals – the only way that transaction can occur – was not been specifically prohibited, opening a wide loophole in the law that has resulted in enforcement challenges and allowed commercial operators on platforms like Airbnb to convert tens of thousands of residential housing units into short-term commercial rental properties.

This new law ONLY applies to short-term rentals that were ALREADY ILLEGAL. This bill merely adds new enforcement tools by specifically prohibiting the advertising of a short-term rental that was already illegal under current New York State law. The same exemptions – one/two family homes, shared/private room rentals, and rentals of over 30 days – are still legal and thus would not fall under the new law. Despite what companies like Airbnb say, New Yorkers can LEGALLY make extra money renting their home, without taking away affordable housing stock. They can rent out a one or two family home, spare room (while present) or an entire apartment for more than 30 days (if acceptable under the terms of your lease).

But companies like Airbnb don’t want hosts to know they can supplement their income legally and without taking away affordable housing because most of their revenue comes from illegal rentals.

What Is An Illegal Hotel?

When permanent residential apartments in buildings with three units or more are rented out for less than 30 days to transient visitors instead of residents, that’s called an illegal hotel. Illegal hotel operations can range from one unit, to a few units here and there, to large-scale operations, with dozens or even hundreds of units converted to full-time illegal hotel use.

The law does not apply to owners of single-family and two-family homes, or residents who rent out individual rooms in their homes for less than 30 days (as long as they are also there the entire time).

How Are Illegal Hotels Hurting Your Neighborhood?

Illegal hotels exacerbate New York City’s affordable housing crisis and are bad for tenants. Far from being a harmless service where residents can share their homes with tourists, short-term rental companies like Airbnb enable commercial operators to break the law by taking away residential housing units and using them for commercial tourist rentals – removing housing options from permanent residents in the process.

In addition to depleting our already limited supply of affordable housing, which drives up rent in our communities illegal hotels can also create serious quality-of-life problems and safety concerns for neighbors. Strangers coming into your building at all times of the day and night, over-crowding, and more wear & tear on public space are just some of the problems caused by illegal hotels.  But it can get far worse including fire safety issues, burglary, and assaults by strangers who might never have had access to get inside, were it not for illegal hotel activity.

What Should I Do If I Think Illegal Hotel Activity Is Happening In My Building?

You can also call our hotline at any time to speak to a real person, get answers, file a complaint, and learn more. Call us now:(646) 979-4117

What Fines Do I Face If I Break The Law?

Under this new law, a person who advertises a short-term rental that is already illegal under the Multiple-Dwellings Law can receive a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense, up to $5,000 for a second offense, and up to $7,500 for a third and subsequent violations. The fines will specifically be levied against the “person” committing the violation, not the online platform.

What Other Risks Are There With Illegal Short-Term Rentals?

Most rental leases, as well as co-op and condo bylaws, do not allow tenants to rent out their apartments without first obtaining permission. This means you could face eviction if you don’t follow the law and get permission from your landlord and/or coop and condo building.

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