Airbnb Legal Questions

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ilya Marritz , WNYC reporter, discusses a recent case where an Airbnb host had to pay a $2400 fine for renting his apartment through Airbnb.


Ilya Marritz

Comments [38]

Peter from Brooklyn

Nice show. It answered a lot of my questions.

Why isn't this framed as government overreach? This issue should be between the landlord and tenant. There's no need for government intervention unless it goes to landlord-tenant court.

The government has subpoenaed user data from AIrBNB. Is no one scared about this? Why didn't you discuss this, Brian? What an oversight on your part.

This is bait and switch on the part of the government. Why allow a business to set up in your jurisdiction, let people use it, then go ahead and declare it illegal and then go after private data of those users! It's a police state we live in.

This is another example of an attempt to ban large sodas.

Why don't you discuss how the hotel lobby is behind this?

Oct. 09 2013 09:00 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Think Airbnb is some innocent service that'll screen your guests and keep your property and neighbors safe while you're away? Read:


I wouldn't do this to my neighbors. Caveat emptor!

May. 23 2013 04:30 PM
bkparent from Brooklyn

I live in Brooklyn and own my house. I have a tenant who pays below market rent, because she's nice and a good tenant so we keep the rent low. If our tenant was away and wanted to have someone stay there, we would expect her to let us know. And if she wanted to rent her apartment on air bnb, we would say no. Our house is small and sound travels, and I don't want strangers in the house, or the potential for wear and tear, and more serious damage, that comes with short terms stays. I am very sympathetic to landlords who find out their tenants are doing this. This is not the point of a long term lease.

May. 23 2013 12:06 PM
ella beilin

Does the person you interviewed suggest ot convert big building into hotels? Is he serious? Do other tenants want to live next to strangers whom NOBODY screened? In addition, these renters live in rent controlled apts, which means the apts are subsidized! And please do not compare us to Europe, which does have rules that much too often are completely disregarded, but you have to keep in mind that most Europeans rent rooms in small buildings or private homes, which is not the case in NY. Thanks

May. 23 2013 11:33 AM
Ashley from Midtown condo owner

This is a mishmash of why i do not support air bnb in NYC in multi-family dwellings:I would bet that more men than women support air bnb, because, in general, women are more concerned with personal safety. I would also guess that more renters than owners (of apartments/condos/co-ops)) support air bnb--how else could this happen? I can't imagine that any condo or co-op board would be ok with this. I don't want to be paranoid, but after that pizza delivery guy raped the woman on the UWS (on a different floor from his delivery), why would anyone want to let a parade of strangers past the front door of your building? I know that that incident was an anomaly, but why increase the odds? Wouldn't air bnb be an ax murderers dream? I would rent out my single-family vacation home in Mexico, or use air bnb or vrbo in other places, but New York works with 8.5 million people in a small space because be have a very deliberate and intricate system that works to support our all getting along. Injecting millions of strangers into our homes in addition to our sidewalks and Squares is too much! I love tourism in this City, but it has its place, and that is not in my hallway! This will be the only quote one will ever hear me make in praise of Ronald Reagan, "No one ever washed a rental car." Meaning, people do not take care of things that are not their own as they do their own property.

May. 23 2013 11:32 AM
bub from manhattan

airbnb is not evil, it was a great safer and friendlier alternative to craigslist and easier than word of mouth. i have used it over the holidays when i visit my family and the people staying take care of my pet, water plants, get mail, etc, i prorate the rent and charge a little less than i pay and it has been a wonderful resource. the problem is the people who take advantage to make profit, it's very obvious when you look at the website the people who actually live in their places and those who keep a cheap place around to exploit. always the bad apple that spoils the bunch.
as for the taxes, you can't escape it, i know someone who travels regularly and got hit pretty hard after renting out their place, airbnb reports to the irs there is no sneaking around it.

May. 23 2013 11:26 AM
Sara from Brooklyn

Airbnb does 1099 their hosts and if a host is renting out responsibly - vetting their guests, not jamming too many people in, etc. - what the city gets is a bunch of people coming in and spending money throughout the five boroughs, supporting local shops and restaurants at a higher rate than the average resident who may only eat out once a week and isn't spending vacation $. The hotel tourists predominantly spend their $ in just a few parts of the city, Broadway and Times Square specifically.
It seems obvious that legislation will have to be written to address this and accept that it is the new reality.

May. 23 2013 11:26 AM

But apartments abroad are often NOT rental properties but OWNED. That is the difference between NYC & abroad.

May. 23 2013 11:25 AM
Trip McCrossin from Brooklyn

What if there were just a provision that would have those who rent out their apartments, or parts thereof, a la Airbnb, pay their "fair share" of taxes? If noise and other regulations are violated by renters, why would those who rent not be liable for fines and so on? If taxes are paid and fines levied appropriately, wouldn't mitigate most objections. Landlords are going to carry on complaining, but in my opinion, most landlords are not "mom and pop" landlords, but corporations already making ungodly amounts of money off of us, even in rent-control settings.

May. 23 2013 11:24 AM

I live in a building where people "airbnb" the apartment downstairs, its horrible and stressful and I agree that it should be illegal.

The people who actually hold the lease live in another building that they own (and do not do this in!!). They do not live in my building but they leave those who do to deal with a steady parade of strangers. Some of which are not at all considerate.

They use the yard and the laundry and don't know how to work the doors and systems and keep vacationer's hours and to have to introduce and explain and ask nicely and wonder if the building is being robbed or that's just another vacationer etc etc etc every day or two, UGH!

I would rather a constant neighbor that I can get to know and have coffee with on the stoop.

May. 23 2013 11:23 AM

An important issue not being talked about is why? Why are people choosing Airbnb or CL vs. hotels. You need look no further than hotel prices in NYC. Why is no one connecting those dots?

May. 23 2013 11:22 AM

So I guess the answer is to have guests screened re: whether or not they're inconsiderate assholes.

May. 23 2013 11:22 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Poor people renting out spare rooms is hardly something new. Bed and board is nothing new.

May. 23 2013 11:21 AM
Robert from NYC

How about apartment exchanges whereby one trades apartments with someone overseas for a certain amount of time and no money changes hands, each person pays his own rent but just has the other using the apartment and keeping an eye on it while there? What about that, is that legal? No money or fee is paid just space exchange.

May. 23 2013 11:21 AM
Anonymous Artist from Downtown Brooklyn

As an artist, I used to rent out my place while I was gone as part of how I was able to fund my projects and artist residencies. It was not for profit, but to cover the rent that I would have paied. Until AirBnb, I had to rely on craigslist and other listserves--AirBnb afforded me a sense of security. At the same time, because it was my own space the renters were staying, I am very careful as to whom I chose to rent out to--and often to other artists who come to NYC to realize their own projects. I know many many artist friends who rely on this service as part of their budget plans. I wonder how much AirBnb is contributing to the overall economy of their cities, especially to the more creative types

May. 23 2013 11:20 AM
oscar from ny

Its only illegal if you do it.
The mayor and all the goons that control the city buy out all the apt for a cheap price and rent them in eye gouching sometimes an old renter home or apt suddenly is a mine...if they rent it out for some money it should be ik..its their home than can basically do whatever they please obviously taking in to consideration the other tenants.
So ppl of your expensive rooms out...don't let these devils tell you what you can't do because they are the first in line to do exactly what they tell you can't do..they hate with a passion if you succed in a loophole that their evil craft has created...they are not on your side..

May. 23 2013 11:20 AM

People want unique, reasonably-priced accommodations with kitchen access in neighborhood settings. Why is this surprising?

May. 23 2013 11:19 AM
Carolyn from Brightwaters

We live on Long Island but have a small place on the UWS. We offered 2 nights in our apartment in a service auction. The couple who paid for the weekend stayed the first night and liked our place so much that they bought the apartment down the hall. Now our doormen are very nice to everyone who comes to stay. They might become tenants.

May. 23 2013 11:19 AM
Romanie Baines from Manhattan.

Shoudn't be legal! It's a horror for the full time, year round, legal residents. More often than not the "visitors" are clueless about the recycling laws, clog up the hallways with their boxes from purchases, are inconsiderate about noise, etc. It's undermines security, it gives a feel of transience, your building is not like home anymore.

May. 23 2013 11:19 AM

Shouldn't your reporter know what the laws are regarding sublet if he's going to be reporting on this issues?

May. 23 2013 11:17 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

There are, according to the NY Times the other day, a growing number of high-end apartment bldgs that are typically only partially occupied at any given time (the owners are the wealthy .01%). What a waste of resources ... why not rent these spaces?

May. 23 2013 11:17 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I never heard of Airbnb 'til this issue arose.

A couple of considerations:

1. Renting to strangers is always at your own risk. They could steal from you, ruin your furniture and/or furnishings, damage the common areas of the building, assault your neighbors, etc., so caution is advised.

2. If you live in a Condo or Co-op, such rentals are probably against building rules, which can lead to having a lien put on your unit.

3. If you live in a rental building, you need to check your lease. If such rental is disallowed, you can be evicted.

I'd be wary of doing this. If you do, it is vitally important to get a sub-lease (even if the rental turns out NOT to be legal) to indemnify yourself. Even though such a sub-lease may be considered unenforceable if the sub-lease is illegal, it still may permit you to file a judgment for damages against the sub-lessee in his/her own jurisdiction.

May. 23 2013 11:17 AM
Michelle from New York, NY

Another major side of the issue is people renting (they do not own the apts) dozens of apartments throughout the city, furnishing them, then renting them to tourists. Paying no income or sales and hotel taxes.
This is ethically wrong.
And I think that what the state law was targetting.

May. 23 2013 11:16 AM
Dan Blazer from East Harlem

City should stay out of it. If buildings/landlords/coop boards want to make their own rules fine. But the city needs to mind their own business.

May. 23 2013 11:16 AM
Juan from Manhattan

One thing that I sometimes see talked about but is really unclear: what if the leaseholder is living there while he or she rents out empty rooms?

May. 23 2013 11:16 AM
jf from common sense

They should just require soundproofing or carpeting.

May. 23 2013 11:15 AM

Your apartment is not your property. It belongs to the landlord, therefore it is not yours to rent or not rent without the landlord's approval. It is not in the landlord's interest for you to rent out your property.

May. 23 2013 11:15 AM

I used to rent out my additional bedroom and my main issue was Airbnb itself. They did (and I assume continue to do) ABSOLUTELY nothing to help the "hosts" -- they simply want their commission. I had numerous issues and Airbnb always ignored my concerns, fined me for canceling reservations (because my landlord had to do repairs, I couldn't host), and abandoned me when I had a horrific "guest" staying with me. If only the city went after Airbnb as much as it monitored "hosts," then I'd applaud it. Until then, I won't rent out my room on Airbnb anymore because I think they're simply greedy.

May. 23 2013 11:14 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It should be up to the landlord, and/or the local building committee, or if it is section 8 or otherwise government subsidized, then the gov't should have a veto.

May. 23 2013 11:14 AM
AP from Brooklyn

I have used airbnb quite a bit to rent my apartment. I think the key is being considerate of your neighbors - which goes hand in hand with someone being considerate with your space. I have a lot of nice furniture in my apartment and if an airbnb client is a jerk or dirty, I don't want them using my stuff and my neighbors don't want them in the building. I pay close attention to the renter and their other reviews when I rent my space. But if someone isn't invested in the space, then I can see where this could be a problem for the neighbors. There is a clear difference between the investment of someone renting their own apartment vs. someone renting a vacant or vacation space.

May. 23 2013 11:14 AM
Chuck from Brooklyn

I have an upstairs neighbor who has been putting his place on Airbnb a lot and has been a total pain. The "visitors" show up late at night, drink all night and make a ton of noise. They come here to party. They are disrupting the tenants that actually live here and work here.

May. 23 2013 11:13 AM
Robert from NYC

I see no problem with it if it doesn't become excessive and cause problems to neighbors. There should be a good review of the coming renters to be sure they are "nuts", whatever that means.

May. 23 2013 11:12 AM
Tobi Jo from Brooklyn

Any business in the city is required to follow regulations set by the city, state and federal government. For the most part, those requirements are intended to protect the consumer. Why not allow folks to rent out their apartment - but treat them like any other business? Have people who rent their apartments comply with the regulations that other lodging businesses have to.

May. 23 2013 11:12 AM
BK from NJ

As long as a building's specific house rules doesn't outlaw it, then the city has no business with what a private citizen does with his property.

May. 23 2013 11:11 AM
jf from reality

This is obviously to make stop crowdsourcing from taking profits away from giant overpriced hotels which conspire to charge dystopian insane prices New York is not worth. People have to be crazy to visit this place anyway.

May. 23 2013 11:11 AM


May. 23 2013 11:10 AM
Andy Architect from Harlem

Doesnt the DOB have better things to do?

May. 23 2013 11:09 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Why shouldn't people be allowed to temporarily rent their homes to tourists or legal visa holders? People in other countries do so all the time.

May. 23 2013 11:02 AM

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