Despite a huge number of potentially illegal home-share listings around the city, and a new law that allows the mayor's office to punish violators who advertise complete home rentals for fewer than 30 days, only a tiny fraction of the violators have actually been hit with fines, according to a new report.
Crain's took a look at the numbers of fines given out versus the number of Airbnb listings that appear to violate the new law prohibiting advertising short-term rentals and found that it would only take the city... 43 years to punish every person violating the law at the rate they're going.
According to Crain's, just 139 out of a potential 23,639 illegally advertised Airbnb units have actually been hit with $1,000 fines by the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement. While Crain's notes that some of the listings could be for units that are in buildings exempted from the law, like single-family homes, there is still a sizable number of properties that would most likely run afoul of the law.
"The city has a powerful tool to crack down on illegal hotel operators in the law I passed last year," Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal told Gothamist in a statement. "Considering the enormous number of illegal listings, the City is faced with a daunting task. While enforcement was off to a slow start, the City recognizes the depth of the affordability crisis we face, and has begun to hire more staff to shut down illegal hotels and restore apartments to the housing market. Wouldn't it all be easier if Airbnb finally just agreed to stop listing illegal apartment rentals on its site?"
"The decision to regulate home sharing by type of building is flawed and unfairly targets working New Yorkers," an Airbnb spokesperson told Gothamist. "Alternatively, we support a common sense solution that cracks down on bad actors and guarantees safe environments for guests and hosts."
Airbnb also claims that they don't keep track of which types of homes are listed on their service, so they can't say for sure how many of the listings are actually illegally advertised multiple dwelling units.
"The data shows how deceptive Airbnb was from the beginning, and how big the problem was," Council Member Jumaane Williams, a frequent Airbnb critic, told Gothamist. "So my hope is we'll be able to get more resources from the city to go after egregious actors, particularly in this affordable housing crunch. They just put their put their platform out time and time and time again and think they don't have to abide by local laws."
Melissa Grace, a spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, tells us the city is cracking down on violators. "New Yorkers who rent their home must follow the law, and we will continue to go after those who take affordable housing off the market, disturb their neighbors, and put guests at risk," Grace said. "We have issued more than $280,000 in fines in three months under a tough new State law, and won’t hesitate to continue protecting New York City’s housing stock."
But for now, at least, there are still plenty of opportunities for Airbnb ragers.