The end of Airbnb in New York

The rules “are a blow to its tourism economy and to the thousands of New Yorkers and small businesses in outer boroughs who rely on homesharing and tourism money to help make ends meet,” says Theo Yedinsky, director of global policy for Airbnb. “The city is sending a clear message to the millions of potential visitors who will now have fewer accommodation options when they visit New York City: You are not welcome.” Airbnb’s goal is to work with the city on “reasonable” rules for home-sharing, Yedinsky says, but he did not elaborate on the company’s next steps.

The change will make short-term rentals “much less attractive” to many people coming to New York, says Sean Hennessy, a professor at the Jonathan M. Tesch Hospitality Center at New York University. And in a city where hotel rooms are small and expensive, that might “make getting to town a bit less difficult”.

There are currently more than 40,000 Airbnbs in New York, according to Inside Airbnb, which tracks listings on the platform. As of June, 22,434 of these were short-term rentals, which are defined as places that can be booked for less than 30 days. Many Airbnbs are concentrated around Midtown Manhattan, along the Upper East Side, and in Williamsburg and Park Slope in Brooklyn. While the number of rents may be small compared to New York City’s population of 8m, Murray Cox, founder of Inside Airbnb, says some sought-after neighborhoods are overburdened with short-term rents, which could lead to housing shortages and higher rents. In theory, the new law could open these homes up to local residents. New York City is facing a housing shortage which has resulted in increased rents and homelessness rates.

Cox, who was a member of the Coalition Against Illegal Hotels, the group that advocated for the registration law, says its enforcement shows “very clearly that you can cut short-term rents”. “You can hold these platforms accountable.”

There is an old law banning short-term rentals of entire apartments for less than 30 days in New York, but it would have been difficult to enforce without a registration mandate that goes into effect on Tuesday. Compounding the sudden shortage of Airbnbs in New York is another part of the new law that allows landlords to block entire buildings from short-term rental platforms. As of July, there were nearly 9,000 buildings across New York City on the list. New York laws on short-term rentals exempt some entire apartments on rental platforms designated as hotels and boarding houses, which means there will still be some entire units advertised on rental platforms.

Some small hosts feel the law unfairly pits them with professional landlords. Marginette Moore Roberts rents a two-bedroom apartment in her Brooklyn brownstone. She lives in the other unit of the house with her husband and teenage daughter. She says she does not want to rent out the apartment to a full-time tenant and lose the flexibility of hosting family and friends there, or using it as a home office, as she did during the pandemic. But because her family doesn’t occupy the second two-bedroom unit, she can no longer be listed on Airbnb for stays of less than 30 days.

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