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Airbnb Rentals Violate NYC Law, Judge Rules

By Nikhita Venugopal | May 21, 2013 8:16pm | Updated on May 22, 2013 9:27am
 An apartment rental on Airbnb in Jackson Heights. A judge ruled that short-term rentals violate city law.
An apartment rental on Airbnb in Jackson Heights. A judge ruled that short-term rentals violate city law.
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NEW YORK CITY —Airbnb, a popular apartment-swapping site that allows users to rent out their own apartments to visitors from around the world, is in violation of New York hotel laws, a judge has ruled.

New Yorkers who offer their homes as rentals on the website violate city regulations that prevent landlords from hosting “illegal hotels” by renting out rooms or apartments for less than 30 days, unless the owners are inside the home while the guests stay there, according to court documents.

The decision arises from a case involving Nigel Warren, an East Village resident whose landlord faced $40,000 in fines for violating illegal transient hotel rules after Warren rented out his apartment on Airbnb for three nights last September, according to the New York Times.

Warren’s landlord will have to pay $2,400 in fines for operating an illegal hotel, according to the May 10 ruling.

Judge Clive Morrick ruled in favor of the city, describing Warren’s string of short-term tenants as “complete strangers” and not lawful guests, according to court documents. 

Airbnb, a San Francisco-based company, said they were disappointed with the decision and planned to appeal.

“Put simply, this decision is wrong on the law, and bad for New York,” the company said, in a statement.

The start-up added that laws in New York and around the world were “confusing and often contradictory” and the decision shows how challenging it can be for hosts and companies, like Airbnb, to understand them.

“It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes,” said Airbnb in a statement.

[Eighty-seven] percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in — they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law.”