Shuckey-Darn: New York City Short Sheets Airbnb

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Love Field Guest HouseYou know Airbnb, yes? The sassy vacation rental site that let’s homeowners earn extra money off their homes by renting them out on a short term basis. I had the pleasure of hearing the founders speak two years ago at Inman in San Francisco. They started the concept when they were living in San Francisco, essentially, broke, and made short term cash fast by leasing out their apartment like a hotel. Bingo, a new concept was born.

Only New York City has not proven as friendly to the Airb&b concept. AOL Real estate reports NYC has “effectively deemed the vacation rental website Airbnb illegal, with a finding that a man there broke the law by renting out his apartment through the service.”

There are strict hotel laws in NYC. A judge arbitrating the case for the city’s Environmental Control Board claims using Airbnb violates New York’s illegal hotel law. That law is designed to stop landlords from turning residences into hotels, and prevents citizens from renting out their properties for less than 29 days. Tenants in NYC sub-lease apartments all the time, and that’s legal as long as it is for more than 29 days.

On May 10, a NYC judge fined New Yorker Nigel Warren $2,400 for violation of the hotel law. Not sure why he was snagged — Warren had faced a $7,000 fine for violating building and zoning codes in addition to hosting guests in his condo via Airbnb. According to CNET, the law is only actionable as a secondary offense. In other words, the city will only enforce the rule if a complaint is filed.

Apparently, San Francisco is also watching the hot start-up company for wriggle room around San Fran’s hotel occupancy taxes. 

We have friends who swear by Airbnb and have tried it in three U.S. cities, two foreign countries. Of those five visits, only one was unpleasant.

“It was not so much unpleasant, as it was a lovely property just in a very seedy part of town,” he told me last Supper Club. “I think it was an area undergoing re-gentrification.”

We were on vacation, he told me; we were not in the mood to be risky or re-gentrified. This, by the way, is a Love Field area guest house in Dallas, said to be near the CBD. It is on Midway Road. While the listing has 66 reviews, most quite stellar, don’t tell me that Love Field and Bluffview is near the CBD. This guest house rents for $75 a night.

See why Airb&b is so hot? See why hotels are concerned?