This Friday at 11 AM, join a broad coalition of elected officials, tenants’ advocates, residents, and allies to announce the kickoff of a campaign to push back and raise awareness of the problems and dangers posed by illegal hotel activity, at a
Rally and press conference on the steps of New York City Hall.
Come early to get through security.
Illegal hotels have plagued New York City for more than a decade. The problem has reached critical mass with the recent, dramatic rise of online short-term rental brokers like Airbnb. We see cheery ads showing people sharing brunch with their house guests, but these don’t tell the real story. In fact, an enormous segment of these web sites’ business does not revolve around actual New Yorkers “sharing” their own homes – it revolves around the illegal conversion of full-time residential housing to transient use. This disrupts buildings, threatens neighbors’ safety, displaces full-time residents, and exacerbates New York City’s crisis-level housing shortage.
In 2010, after more than five years of work with tenants’ groups, our fellow Manhattan elected officials, and city agencies, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and I passed the Illegal Hotel Law. This law gave the City tools it needed to issue fines and enforce against the growing threat of residential multi-family housing being converted to illegal hotel use.
That law is now threatened by a massive PR and lobbying blitz funded by Airbnb, a company valued at more than $10 billion which is seen as the leader in a new wave of “sharing economy” companies.
This Friday at 11 AM, a broad coalition of elected officials, tenants’ advocates, residents, and allies will gather to announce the kickoff of our own campaign to push back and raise awareness of the problems and dangers posed by illegal hotel activity, at a rally and press conference on the steps of New York City Hall.
Make no mistake – I am not saying there isn’t a place, anywhere or anytime, for this business model. And in fact, our current law is already a compromise – the short-term rental ban only applies to multi-family buildings, and even then, New Yorkers are still allowed to rent rooms within their apartments to guests, if they’re going to be at home for the duration of the stay. So actual “sharing” is, in many instances, already legal!
State and local governments have a right and a duty to make reasonable regulations to protect residents and preserve housing stock. There’s nothing anti-innovation about that. Airbnb and other companies are confusing the issue in an attempt to weaken our existing laws protecting New Yorkers’ residential housing. This Friday, we will start pushing back in earnest.