Skip to main content

Airbnb hosts are worried about being fined as illegal hotels

Airbnb hosts are worried about being fined as illegal hotels


A new law targets anyone who leases their entire apartment for less than 30 days

Share this story

Airbnb rally
Airbnb Rally in New York City
Anisa Purbasari

As Airbnb looks to expand its business model to include travel consultation and flight booking, the home-sharing platform continues to tussle with regulators over its primary business: short-term rentals. Dozens of hosts gathered in New York City today to voice their concerns at a hearing conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. The hearing was held to allow public comments on the proposed enforcement of a new state law which prohibits the listing of unoccupied apartments for less than 30 days. It has always been illegal to rent like this, but now it is illegal to advertise, in other words, to list on services like Airbnb.

Most of the Airbnb hosts who spoke at the hearing urged the Mayor’s Office to exempt individual hosts from being subject to this law. Joy Williams, a host from Harlem who listed her property on Airbnb after her tenants broke their lease, said that “the law should target illegal commercial hotel operators and not the thousands of hosts who rely on Airbnb as an economic lifeline.”

Linda Rosenthal, New York Assembly member and main sponsor of the law, briefly attended the hearing to express her support of the new rule. She re-iterated her discontent with Airbnb’s practices, saying that “illegal hotels represent a pernicious threat” to New York residents and contribute to rising rents and gentrification of neighborhoods.

Hosts are worried that the new law doesn’t distinguish between individuals and illegal commercial operators

The proposed rule gave no indication whether New York City will distinguish individual hosts from commercial operators who are effectively running hotels — illegally — through the Airbnb platform. Helen Rosenthal, New York Council Member, said in her testimony that the focus of the law should be on “the commercial illegal hotel operators. Those who either are building owners who warehouse empty apartments; or individuals who lease multiple apartments in many buildings, to rent them out on Airbnb.”

She acknowledged the complications of enforcing the law on individual tenants, but did not say that they should be exempt. Rather, she encouraged a “proactive and robust educational campaign” to ensure that individual tenants “do not unknowingly engage in illegal acts.”

The proposed rule spelled out the penalties that infringers would be slapped with. Those who violate the law for the first time will be fined $1,000, $5,000 for the second time, and $7,500 for the third and subsequent violations.

The fines escalate for repeat offenders

Airbnb has begun to soften up its stance after a series of aggressive public feuds with regulators. The company recently settled a lawsuit that it brought against New York City over the new law.

Josh Meltzer, head of New York Public Policy at Airbnb, said in a statement that the company hopes that today’s hearing allows officials to “hear the collective voice of hundreds of hosts, businesses, and organizations who are urging the City to keep their promise to target illegal hotel operators, not middle class families who are struggling to pay the bills.” 

“We look forward to working with the City to accomplish that goal,” said Meltzer. “The vast majority of New York hosts share only their own home, and do not deserve to be slapped with fines that are worse than those given to slumlords who harass their tenants."

UPDATE 2:31 PM ET 12/20: Clarified that it has always been illegal in New York to advertise unoccupied apartments for less than 30 days. The new law prohibits advertising those properties or listing them on services like Airbnb.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.

The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.

Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.

A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.