Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Announces Bill to Crack Down on Airbnb Passes Housing Committee

April 17, 2016

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced that her bill to crack down on Airbnb and illegal hotel operators and protect tenants, bill A.8704-B, jumped a major hurdle today when it was voted out of the Assembly Committee on Housing.

“Airbnb has created a black market for illegal hotel operators, and my bill will help to crack down on bad actors who are depleting our affordable housing stock and destabilizing our communities,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “I am so pleased that my colleagues on the Housing Committee recognized the consequences of illegal hotel activity and Airbnb and voted to move this bill.”

Bill A. 8704-B will make New York the first state in the nation to ban the advertising of illegal hotels on Airbnb’s website and by other means, such as television, radio and print, to name a few. Though it is already illegal to rent out a class A multiple dwelling for fewer than 30 days, Airbnb’s website allows users to promote illegal activity that breaks New York State law, violates building and safety codes and zoning, threatens tenant safety, destabilizes our communities and depletes our rapidly vanishing affordable housing stock.

“The majority of Airbnb’s users are commercial operators who often warehouse dozens and even hundreds of apartments which would otherwise be available to hard-working New York families,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “As we desperately try to fight to stem the loss of precious units of affordable housing, Airbnb’s presence in New York City is contributing to such a loss rapid loss of affordable housing that we simply cannot replace the units as fast as they are being lost to Airbnb. It must be stopped.”

Since renting out one’s unit on Airbnb is already in many cases illegal, tenants who use the site often face hefty fines and even eviction. In addition, Airbnb refuses to purge its site of illegal actors and commercial operators, it has become incumbent that the State protect unsuspecting New Yorkers.

“Since Airbnb refuses to notify New Yorkers of the responsibilities under the law, it is crucial that we do so,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “This bill will protect tenants against preventable eviction and will help them to stay in their homes.”

Bill A. 8704-B, which now heads to the Codes Committee, would:

  • Prohibit advertising that promotes the illegal conversion of residential rental housing units into short-term commercial properties; and
  • Would require landlords to provide tenants with annual notice that renting their apartments may subject them to fines and even eviction.

In the summer of 2015, Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal conducted an undercover sting of Airbnb units in and around her district. Through a quick search through Airbnb’s online portal, Rosenthal easily identified four rental units in four separate buildings that were being illegally rented out on Airbnb. In one case, the host was warehousing dozens of units across multiple cities, in another, the landlord was illegally renting several units on Airbnb.