Mayor de Blasio is committing $10 million to sniffing out illegal hotels hosted through sites such as Airbnb. The Daily News reports that the administration will dispense the money over the next three years to the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement, an obscure agency that investigates illegal hotels as well as nightclubs, sex shops, and massage parlors.
The state's Multiple Dwelling Law prohibits New Yorkers from renting out entire apartments for fewer than 30 days if the lawful resident is not home. The Mayor's Office will now actively seek out such listings, where before it only investigated apartments when someone complained.
Despite New York politicians' demands, Airbnb has so far resisted providing data such as which users have multiple listings around the city and how many days listed apartments are rented out per year, both of which are useful as indicators of illegal hotels. Last month an executive for the company told the City Council proposed fine increases for fly-by-night innkeepers were "an attack on the middle class." The company later offered to better police itself, collect hotel taxes from its users, which the city doesn't allow, and release data on Airbnb user activity, but not the kind that would be most useful for enforcement.
Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas declined to say whether the company has had any change of heart about releasing data, but offered this statement:
We oppose illegal hotels—they are not good for our community or New York—we are glad the City is fighting them and we hope we can all work together on some sensible rules of the road that protect middle class New Yorkers who share the home in which they live.
An investigation by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last year found that almost three quarters of New York City Airbnb listings from 2010 to 2014 were illegal rentals. Schneiderman, incidentally, is raking in donations from the traditional hotel industry.