Airbnb rentals have become ubiquitous in cooperative and condominium settings. Not only are short-term stays illegal under New York law, which prohibits the rentals of Class A multiple dwelling apartments for periods of fewer than 30 days, but such rentals also represent a violation of most cooperative and condominium policies. We worked with a number of boards to develop multifaceted approaches to address this issue.
Management was instructed to monitor websites to identify potential violators. Doormen and concierges were reminded of their security duties and advised of the board’s determination to discipline employees who were complicit with violators. New security measures were implemented, such as installing key-fob or biometric entry systems and creating visitor log books. Security cameras were strategically placed throughout the building. Memos were sent to residents advising them that short-term sublets are illegal.
Since short-term rentals are often incapable of legal review – by their very nature they usually end before any cure period afforded under corporate documents has run – resolutions were adopted in cooperatives to declare any repeated conduct objectionable. This would entitle boards to terminate a proprietary lease upon the occurrence of multiple violations without the opportunity to cure. Where warranted, legal action was taken and upon a successful outcome, broadcast to all residents of the building.
Dealing with Airbnb issues is no different from dealing with most of the other governance issues that boards must address. When there is a threat to the overall purposes under which a cooperative or condominium was founded, boards must not only be reactive, but also proactive in their approach. Existing systems, policies, and practices must be carefully analyzed and critiqued. With the advice of the building’s professionals, boards must close loopholes, explore newer methods, take advantage of technology, and build better mousetraps to effectively deal with violators. To maintain control of a cooperative or a condominium requires that it be carefully and constantly monitored and managed. Perhaps the most important aspect of governance is frequent and effective communication with owners as most of them will toe the line if they are kept in the loop, properly educated and informed of the board’s rationale for its policies.