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City to Crack Down Even Harder on Illegal Sublets

New York City

Airbnb Crackdown
April 28, 2017

A week after it was revealed that lobbyists for the hotel industry helped push through new state laws against short-term sublets, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that he plans to pump an extra $2.9 million into a citywide crackdown over the next two fiscal years, Crains reports.

The city's Office of Special Enforcement will add 16 staffers to the 32-member team devoted to inspecting and fining landlords and leaseholders who rent entire apartments out for fewer than 30 days, which breaks the law.

“The mayor is hiring more building inspectors, lawyers and police officers, among other staff, to significantly beef up enforcement against property owners who rent homes as hotel rooms," says mayoral spokeswoman Melissa Grace. "This illegal activity takes permanent housing off the market, puts people at risk, and damages neighborhoods."

It also damages the deep-pocketed hotel industry. The American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade group that counts the Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt hotel chains as members, has been aggressively pushing for so-called “anti-Airbnb” laws in Washington, D.C., Albany, and many other state capitals. An expanded anti-Airbnb law, passed by the New York state legislature last June, went into effect in the city Jan. 31. The law bans listings for illegal short-term rentals, putting leaseholders on the hook. Since then, 15 entities have been slapped with 128 violations, resulting in $232,000 in proposed fines.

Meanwhile, Airbnb claims that since late 2015 it has removed more than 4,000 online sublet listings it deemed suspicious. "Airbnb supports efforts to crack down on illegal hotels that remove housing from the market and welcomes the opportunity to work with the City to target truly bad actors," says Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels. "We hope the mayor recognizes that the 96 percent of Airbnb hosts who share the home in which they live responsibly should not be subjected to fines and harassment by city agents."

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