Co-op and condo boards seeking to snuff out illegal short-term sublets can take heart: the city appears serious about enforcing laws that forbid advertising or subletting apartments for less than 30 days unless the owner is present in the unit.
For the second time this year, the New York Post reports, owners of a luxurious, five-story, $26 million Upper East Side townhouse have been fined – this time for $8,000 – for listing five units on such websites as HomeAway and VRBO for short-term stays starting at $500 a night. The East 76th Street townhouse is three blocks from the home of former mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Using homes as hotels anywhere in this city is illegal and potentially dangerous,” says Christian Klossner, director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. “We will continue to crack down on bad actors that profit by taking permanent housing units off the market.”
Most co-ops and many condos have strict sublet policies, and boards encourage their staffs to help weed out illegal subletters. But only recently have the city and state stepped in to crack down on short-term sublets by Airbnb and other services. The state law forbidding short-term rentals – which has the strong support of the hotel industry – was amended last year to make it a violation even to advertise such rentals.
Claudio Gauzzoni dei Zanetti, who lives in the top two floors of the East 76th Street townhouse with his wife Julia Zanetti, tells the Post he’s the victim of selective enforcement. “They take a shotgun approach and go after anybody who’s advertising any rental,” he says. “It’s one of those things where you have to go in and prove yourself innocent, which is a waste of time. They figure a lot of folks won’t show up and [will] pay the fines.”
In December, Guazzoni was instructed to pay a $1,600 fine for offering “transient occupancy” in a January 2016 violation – but only after he fought the charge.
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