NY AG Subpoenas AirBnB User Info

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

New York-area hosts have received an email from AirBnB letting them know that the New York Attorney General has subpoenaed their personal information. Charlie Herman, Business and Economics Editor for WNYC News, and Matt Chaban of the Daily News explain the legal issues and what hosts can expect.


Charlie Herman

Comments [18]

carey from fingerlakes , NY

We own and pay taxes on a 2bdrm "carriage house" that is attached to our 1800's house which we restored and maintain.
Air BnB has offered us a way to share /rent the space , meet interesting people and earn a little extra $. It has been mostly a positive experience and a learning. We strive to be impeccable w the space as far as maintaining and cleaning and provided a comfortable stay. RE; "bed bugs" someone mentioned; that can happen anywhere; as can noise and a whole slew of negative vibrations; that is why I appreciate Air BnB it offers an alternative to the standard over priced ompersonal hotel experience. Renting via Air BnB can be especially helpful for families traveling who need more than just a standard hotel room; as is the case w snoring/working husbands; children who sprawl and rise early in the morning and need screen time. The variety of accomodations available through a service such as Air BnB is appealing and a good thing; it should not be eliminated or discouraged; monitored perhaps and run w high standards; that is a good thing. The hotel industry lobbying against a hosting network such as air BnB is like Burger King lobbying against "Shake Shack" or "Five Guys" ; they are offering something a little different ; in some cases it is better; people are enjoying it and some are generating some income from it while making connections and providing a service. I can understand that within a big city such as NYC; it may be more complicated esp re; people doing tis kind of things while just renting/leasing and also bc of the closeness of neighbors etc; however w clear regulations/guidelines etc; it can work and it should be up to an individual where they choose to spend their $ and rest their head at night. I am not in competition w the local BnB's in my region; however there are times when they are all booked up and/or a family may be seeking a larger space; in our case a 2bdrm suite w kitchen and a little more space and privacy than an average motel/hotel on the side of the boulevard! Anyway just because some group of people decided to build an standard brick hotel on the main boulevard w a swimming pool facing the traffic , Burger King and Applebees; does not determine THAT is the place where the ALL people have to stay! I am a tax payer and a land owner and why should I not have the right to offer someone a place to rest and to swim in our pond and enjoy a walk through the forest just because there is a Hilton or a Holiday Inn downtown! This conversation can carry over into many aspects of our lives; government, energy, food, education, sexuality etc; WE/the powers that be need to look at the need to control and regulate everything; it relates to sexism, racism, classism, all of the isms and its tyranical, BULLying, controlling ways are based in fear, control ad greed.
If the people want to share their space, apt, house, yurt, castle, beachhouse, let them share it.

Oct. 20 2013 10:29 PM
David from Brooklyn, Nueva York

I would worry more about insurance coverage, rather thank any housing law. Insurance will not cover homeowners if their residential building (any part) is used for commercial purposes. Especially unlicensed. So, if your "house guest" has an accident, or decides to get into a fight with another tenant or an everyday Joe, the building owner is on the hook and goes alone if a lawsuit develops.

You should also worry about professional tenants. A guest books your apartment for a week. The contract is signed, the payment is made and you hand the guest your keys: the house guest can now legally occupy your apartment past the contract date because you gave him (or her) permission, as well as the keys to your place, to be an occupant. You must now go through Housing Court to evict, possibly face charges from the City for an illegal B&B operation and probably face a lawsuit from the landlord for illegally sub-letting and making the landlord incur costs for said eviction and legalities. All fun stuff!

Oct. 09 2013 01:06 PM
Robert from Manhattan

Another organization called 'onefinestay' is a more upmarket version of AirBnB which comes to your apartment, vets it and supplies linen and other things, cleans it and stores your personal items. They insist that you must NOT be there when the renter is there. They deal in stays of one night and upward. This seems to be a very flagrant violation of NYS law. They are soliciting people to put their apartments forward to be included in their scheme.

We have used AirBnB in other cities and it works very well.

Oct. 08 2013 04:38 PM
One person from West Village

Renting out your apartment to make money is nothing new, it's just that AirBnB has made it easier and more public. In this economy, it's often a survival technique. My neighbor, who has experienced extended unemployment, often rents out his apartment, with the landlord's approval. He rents for a month or two at a time, however, and chooses the renters carefully. No one in this building minds.

Oct. 08 2013 01:39 PM from NJ

The concerns of taking rental units off the market or potentially Airbnb users violating hotel or tax laws seem to be more of the guiding hand of government--the nanny state--interfering in peoples lives. If someone wants to rent their unit on a daily basis or a ten year basis that should be their own business. If someone goes on vacation and wants to rent out their apartment (if lease doesn't disallow it) that should also be their own business. As usual, potential issues with a small percentage of users--whether Airbnb or anything else--is used to create overbearing policy, more illegality, and more interference into peoples lives.

Oct. 08 2013 11:08 AM

Everyone will be "popping up" on the AG's screen. They are looking for all of those missing tax dollars. It kind of blows when normal citizens that listen to Brian need to start paying out their fair share.

Oct. 08 2013 10:25 AM

The occupancy tax is a minor issue. It's one thing to rent out your apartment once or twice a year if you're actually away on vacation. It's another thing entirely when tenants use their apartments, sometimes rent-stabilized units, as income-producing opportunities rather than as homes. As a long-term NYC resident and renter, I see this practice as something that has the potential to destabilize a building, making it easier for landlords to remove units from the rent-stabilized housing stock, and to turn neighborhoods into transient areas.

Oct. 08 2013 10:22 AM
Jane from upper west side?

just came in on the show, doesn't nyc zoning regulate these?

Oct. 08 2013 10:22 AM
Sara from Bushwick

If NYC rents weren't so high there would likely be fewer people renting out their spare space via airbnb.

Oct. 08 2013 10:17 AM
Jenny from UES

These are hotels without any security!

Oct. 08 2013 10:16 AM
Ferra from Ridgewood

What about bed bugs?!!

Oct. 08 2013 10:16 AM
Ninbus from NYC

Like "Chuck from Manhattan", our neighbor rents out his apartment on a weekly basis to an assortment of 'guests' - ranging from a polite couple from Montana to boorish, loud and obnoxious types who came in at all hours, buzz assorted apartments in the middle of the night and were generally disruptive and rude.

Complaints from residents elicited a shrug from the fellow who was subletting his apartment and, in fact, he dissembled (aka 'lied') and told us the landlord approved of what he was doing. This was proven to be untrue.

Oct. 08 2013 10:15 AM
Katie from Huntington, NY

We're renting one of these apartments the night before Thanksgiving. Will this affect us??? We're meeting our daughter and granddaughter who live in Florida so they can see the parade.

Oct. 08 2013 10:15 AM
Mary from Brooklyn

I have rented on AirBnB. I think its a nice service but calling it a "communtiy" is a bit of a stretch. I would never charge my friends to stay at my house. People do it to make money.

Oct. 08 2013 10:14 AM
Linda from Manhattan

Regarding those who rent out a room in their apartment, is the law the same for renters and owners? As I recall, the state rent stabilization board prohibits renters from renting out a room for under 1 month.

Oct. 08 2013 10:12 AM
Chuck from Manhattan

One tenant in our rent regulated building who traveled a lot started renting via airbnb for weeks on end until the landlord evicted him because it was in violation of the lease. Many of the "visitors" were loud party-hearty guys from other countries who felt they were paying a lot of $$ and should be allowed to do whatever they wanted. Airbnb is laughing all the way to the bank

Oct. 08 2013 10:10 AM
Ted from Brooklyn

I've heard that there's heavy lobbying from the hotel industry in NYC to shut down AirBnB here because of lost business... Brian can the guest speak on this point?

Oct. 08 2013 10:07 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

If you have a Condo, with by-laws that permit it, or a 3 family or less, you should be allowed do whatever and pay a tax.

People who rent out their free-market and RS apts, should not be as lucky.

Oct. 08 2013 09:54 AM

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