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Big Apple landlords aren't the only ones using Airbnb because of the market distortions created by rent control. Tenants sitting on sweatheart deals are increasingly re-renting their apartments to tourists at market rates. In July, Amy Parness was caught by her landlord pulling in $4,500 per month on Airbnb by renting out her $1,400 per month one-bedroom on the Lower East Side. Most leases explicitly ban such activities without landlord approval.
Bill Golodner, a private investigator who often works with landlords that suspect their tenants ofviolating their leases, recently uncovered that a rent-regulated tenant with a $600-a-month Manhattan apartment was earning about $4,000 a month on Airbnb. Golodner says in the past year he's found tenants profiteering on Airbnb in about one-third of his investigations. Such activity is a predictable, if unintended, consequence of trying to keep rental prices below market rates.
But as Lauren and Rob demonstrate, relying on the government to keep prices artificially cheap isn't the only way people of limited means can afford to stay in Manhattan - whether as residents of vacationers. Only if landlords, tenants, and tourists are allowed to work out amongst themselves the best ways to make use of limited space will cities like New York become more affordable to live in or stay in.
And innovative services such as AirBnb go a long way towards making that possible.
Video written, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein; hosted by Naomi Brockwell.
About 5.45 minutes.
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