AirBnb

Airbnb Targeted by New York Senate Bill, and Airbnb Host Criminally Charged in Los Angeles

The bicoastal war against this convenient way for hosts and lodgers to meet for mutual satisfaction.

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New York's state Senate has passed a bill, which now awaits action from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that would make it a crime to advertise an entire apartment for rent for a period of fewer than 30 days.

Airbnb logo

First offenders would be fined $1,000, but that would balloon to $7,500 for a third offense.

Linda Rosenthal, a state assemblywoman who supported the law, was quoted in The Verge as saying that it's not aimed at any individual trying to make a buck with spare space but at "commercial operators….bad actors who horde multiple units, driving up the cost of housing around them." She also raised the fearful spectre of lots of people you might not know sleeping in the apartment next door. 

As Gothamist notes, doing the short-term renting of a complete apartment was already illegal in New York City at least. This new bill makes even advertising it illegal. Travel and Leisure notes estimates that slightly over half of the city's Airbnb's are thus already illegal. And Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, says Mashable, thinks it's 72 percent already illegal. I reported back in Reason's Feburary 2015 issue on this contention, and on the $33 million in taxes the state feels it is being denied by AirBnb. 

Unsurprisingly, the hotel industry is all for this bill, and Airbnb is against it. New York TV station Pix11 reports that an Airbnb spokesman says the state's lawmakers "cut a last-minute deal with the hotel industry…[this is] a bad proposal that will make it harder for thousands of New Yorkers to pay the bills."

Cuomo's office has not yet stated his intentions.

On the west coast, the city of Los Angeles is trying to criminally charge a landlord for daring to switch from longterm tenants to short-term Airbnb rentals, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The City Attorney hit Carol J. Alsman and LSJB Investments LLC "with six misdemeanor counts of violating city zoning, building code and rent-control laws" regarding a four-unit building they own. They are accused of booting tenants "under the Ellis Act, a state law that allows landlords to get out of the rental business. The law requires landlords to pay for relocation fees and notify tenants if they intend to re-rent the units within five years.

They are accused of now renting the units for "more than $550 a night through Airbnb" in violation of the law.

But others disturbed by a trend of disappearing normal-term apartment rentals want to see more than just individual landlords in the dock:

Randy Renick, an attorney representing tenants at the Genesee Avenue building…said [the city should also go after short-term rental sites. "Without Airbnb, none of these landlords would be engaging in this scam," Renick said.

In a statement, Airbnb spokeswoman Alison Schumer said that "we strongly oppose real estate speculators who illegally evict tenants and abuse platforms like ours in search of a quick buck."

The city of L.A. is also civilly suing:

owners of three rent-controlled apartment buildings, alleging that the property owners are illegally operating and advertising them as hotels….The three buildings have more than 120 units, according to the city attorney's office.

The lawsuits seek a court-appointed receiver to operate the three properties until they are brought into compliance, as well as restitution and civil penalties.

I reported last month on proposed L.A. laws to restrict Airbnb use.

I speculated on why so many people have trouble wrapping their head around this mutually beneficial service back in 2015.

Reason on Airbnb.

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  1. This is about as on-topic as I feel like getting right now –

    What’s that song where the guy and the girl are in some kind of haunted house? It’s on the radio but I can’t make out most of the lyrics.

    Any assistance would be appreciated.

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  2. So in this case it’s cool for the government to be in the bedroom? I’m so confused…

    1. It’s not confusing at all. If there’s a buck to be made, the state wants a piece.

  3. It’s not that this isn’t important, it is. It’s just hard to care when the 2nd amendment is under immediate assault and there is seemingly no one to defend it.

      1. I remember the first time I heard that song. And fuck unplugged pussy shit.

        I’m thinking it was early 80s? Mid 80s? Anway, I had a GF that was spending the night and she went to sleep, but I was so high, so high, so high, and plenty of alcohol left to, and I saw this video on whatever late nite program it was. I was pretty blown away with Warren DeMartini’s playing style and I had never heard of Ratt before this. In the morning I told gf about it, I was all excited and she thought I was lying, heh, that’s what happens when you fuck with dizzy naive chicks all of the time.

    1. It’s just hard to care when the 2nd amendment is under immediate assault and there is seemingly no one to defend it.

      I appears the Republicans did just fine today.

      1. GET A LOAD OF THIS TRUMP SUPPORTER

    1. Death Bunny?

      1. Why do you think I’m still awake?

  4. Linda Rosenthal, a state assemblywoman who supported the law, was quoted in The Verge as saying that it’s not aimed at any individual trying to make a buck with spare space but at ” commercial operators….bad actors who horde multiple units, driving up the cost of housing around them.”

    WRECKERS! HOARDERS! KULAKS!

    1. You forgot, BITTER CLINGERS.

    2. Technically, she called them horders.

      1. FOR THE HORDE!!

  5. But others disturbed by a trend of disappearing normal-term apartment rentals want to see more than just individual landlords in the dock…

    Venezuela has faced countless shortages created by its centrally-planned economy…

    *presents without comment*

  6. If “bad actors” are “hoarding multiple units” for the purpose of renting them out for short term stays, doesn’t that indicate that there is WAY MORE demand for short term accommodations than New York can currently supply? Doesn’t that mean there is more demand for short term accommodations than there is for longer-term ones?
    I realize the the housing supply is low in general, but if people are willing to pay $200 a night for a five day stay, then why shouldn’t the market accommodate that demand? Why is it wrong for housing units to be allocated to tourists, especially given that market prices are obviously indicating that’s where the highest demand is?
    Tourists bring in money that they spend and provide jobs to New York residents. A fixed supply of hotel rooms means fewer tourists and higher prices, which means more of the tourists’ money goes to hotels and less gets spent at restaurants and on tips which benefit lower-income workers. Ultimately, this is really all about restricting the supply of hotel space so the people who own hotels can collect higher rates. Like most regulations, it benefits the most well-positioned people in New York at the expense of the middle class. It’s a rich-poor alliance – we give you welfare and rent control, and we get to keep down the middle class guy who is trying to rise.

    1. Look at you with all of your fancy logic and understanding of supply and demand! We can’t have none of that around here when we have so many FEELZ to contend with!

    2. This realization would force people to accept that no one wants to live in NYC, and that would be the deathblow to their entire identity as rugged, capable New Yorkers. STOP OTHERING THEIR SELF-INDENTIFICATION YOU NAZI RATFUCKING TEABAG SUCKLING CISHETEROSHITLORD111!one

    3. You know which other bad actors are involved in “Horde”-ing, in a context which often involved multiple units, in which shall we say supply and demand are often resource intensive?

      1. Garrosh Hellscream?

  7. . . . She also raised the fearful spectre of lots of people you might not know sleeping in the apartment next door.

    I’ve lived in my current home for around 4 years – and I still don’t know the name of my neighbors and only know them as ‘the guy with the motorcycle who’s property values I’m bringing down with my shitty lawn’, the guy who parks his fucking cars on the street next to my house instead of next to his’, and ‘the guy who leaves his front light on all night and it shines into my bedroom window unless the drapes are closed’.

    And yet at no point have I ever felt particularly unsafe because I didn’t know them. And to be honest – who really knows what their neighbors get up to? I’m sure Fred and Rosemary were considered perfectly harmless if kinda wierd.

    1. It’s almost as if it’s normal for people to leave each other to their own business and only become involved with each other when they discover a mutual reason to do so.

      I dunno, sounds crazy, I’m pretty sure the IRS or USDA should be in charge of who we spend our time with.

    2. Yes but they live there all the time, no? You don’t have a new neighbor every two or three nights? Renters have little, if any, reason to follow the building/association/local regulations that apply to the owner, less so the shorter the stay.

      You can say sue the owner for his bad rentals all you want, that is not economically a viable solution for the neighbors and allows an unacceptable situation to continue for months, if not years. I am fully in favor of this bill. Doing what you want with your property is fine as long as your actions do not negatively effect me.

      The law allows you to rent as much as you want in 30 day increments – a more than reasonable compromise (I would set it at 180 days). That there is clearly a market for additional short term rentals aka hotels should tell investors there is money to be made by building additional hotels (or converting existing buildings entirely to hotels).

    3. One of the things I have noticed is that population density does not really promote closer relationships between neighbors.I think the reason for this is that the closer you are to your neighbors physically, the less privacy you have. This makes people want to push their neighbors away psychologically. If your neighbor doesn’t feel they can approach you, they’re more reticent about complaining about the loud sex you were having the night before, or whatever you were doing in your back yard they don’t approve of. It’s like the saying that “good fences make good neighbors”. When you have some physical space between yourself and other people, you are more in control of how you interact with them, which makes people more willing to get to know them. When you have less physical space, you want to create psychological distance. Just something to think about for people who believe that high population density equals community.

  8. Emergent societies settling the orbits for advanced microcosms are doomed into fetid shriveled lost selves clamped between the priggish demands of autocratic bookends smashing their narrow puckish irons onto the vast American tsunami of upheaval.

    1. Agile, I swear one day I am compiling all of your posts into a religious text. You are weird but beautiful.

    1. admit it, you’re not sugar coating it to avoid the new FDA labeling requirements and because Big Corn has your ear.

    2. Oh come now. It wasn’t that bad. They’re young. With a little practice and refinement…

  9. And finally…

    If you want a cover song which isn’t as loud as the singer’s suit, check this out.

  10. Hmmm…everyone seems to have better taste than me. Time to go.

  11. Bill Maher attempts to reason with people who think whataboutisms are valid arguments: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYMIj5ZuT-k

    1. Maher’s audience got away from him…when you’re a panelist on Maher’s show and you find Maher’s audience siding with you against him, that’s a sign that you’ve said something *very* stupid.

  12. “Without Airbnb, none of these landlords would be engaging in this scam,”

    Scam – doing what you want with your property instead of what the Top Men decide is best for everyone else.

  13. The hoteliers have been running ads claiming Airbnb is racist, too.

    One of the things that sucks about having local TV be based in a state capital is that you get all the shitty lobbying ads.

    1. Airbnb isn’t racist, but it might be true that because profiles with photographs are encouraged it allows some Airbnb hosts (and guests!) to (potentially) discriminate. I don’t see that as bad though. Hosts and guests should be allowed to know who they are renting from and to, and make their own decisions about who they rent to. There are plenty of black people in New York, so I doubt they’re going to have that much trouble finding a place to stay.
      There is no price discrimination since a set rate is advertised.

      Plus, requiring a photograph isn’t necessarily evidence of racism, it can just be a fraud prevention measure.

  14. My God.

    Is there a more loathsome species of tyranny than the politician and its parasitical tendencies?

    They’re doubling down on the new economy because they want their cut like the mobsters they are. Each time I listen to these scum bags talk about ‘helping the middle class’ I seriously want to slap them in the face and ask how they can look at themselves in the mirror at night.

    Assuming, of course, zombies can see their reflection.

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