Two landlords on Manhattan's Upper West Side have filed lawsuits against Airbnb and their tenants for violating new city restrictions on home sharing, exposing themselves to hefty fines. The legal battles stem from the recent implementation of Local Law 18, which took effect on September 5. This law mandates that hosts must register with the city before renting out their apartments for periods shorter than 30 days.
One of the landlords, the owner of a five-story walkup building, was slapped with a $12,000 fine for allowing a tenant to unlawfully list a three-bedroom apartment on Airbnb, despite not residing there. The tenant was advertising the apartment for up to 16 people at a rate of $1,000 per night. Failure to halt this activity could result in even steeper fines for the building owner.
The tenant failed to appear at a court hearing in the case, according to court papers. The other landlord, the owner of a 33-story luxury tower, sued a tenant, accusing them of renting out a one-bedroom apartment for $175 a night and a second "private sitting room" for $87 a night. The building management claimed that the tenant was attempting to create an additional bedroom in violation of their lease and without the required approvals from the Department of Buildings.
Despite the tenant's claims that they lived with their guests during their stays, the landlord contended that they were improperly using the apartment for transient guests. Furthermore, the tenant had not registered their apartment with the city and was allegedly in arrears with their rent payments. They also had a pet, which was against the building's no-pet policy.
Airbnb removed both tenants' listings after the lawsuits were filed, indicating cooperation with the city's efforts to enforce the new law. The legal disputes reflect the chaos that has arisen since the law's implementation, leading to a reduction in Airbnb's presence in New York City. Hosts have either shifted to offering 30-day rentals or moved underground, listing their spaces on platforms like Craigslist and Facebook.
The impact of the law has raised concerns, with a Bloomberg report highlighting a decrease in Airbnb's stock value and a notable number of analysts advising investors to sell their shares. The ongoing legal battles and regulatory changes continue to shape the landscape of home sharing in New York City.
Fickenscher, L. (2023) https://nypost.com/2023/10/31/business/nyc-landlords-claim-airbnb-thumbing-their-noses-at-home-sharing-rules/