Hotels Want New Yorkers to Narc on Their Neighbors for Using Airbnb

New hotline is brought to you by the same nonprofit that invented a fictional woman for anti-Airbnb television ad in D.C.


Ingram Publishing/Newscom

Hotel chains, unions, and their allies persuaded New York lawmakers last year to pass a bill banning Airbnb and other forms of roomsharing in the state. New Yorkers proceeded to ignore the law. On New Years' Eve, for example, more people booked Airbnbs in New York City than anywhere else on the planet. Data provided by the company show that 55,000 people used Airbnb on December 31, 2016—up from 47,000 people on the final night of 2015, before the ban was enacted.

What's the hotel industry to do? The answer, it seems, is to encourage New Yorkers to narc on their neighbors.

ShareBetter, a nonprofit funded by the Hotel Trades Council and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, has created a hotline to allow New Yorkers to report illegal home-sharing to the proper authorities.

Reporting dangerous and threatening behavior to the police is one thing—and if you don't want to go directly to the cops, Airbnb already offers a hotline for complaints about bad hosts and guests. But this is one of those situations where illegal isn't exactly the same as dangerous. What threat does ShareBetter think New Yorkers need to "protect" their neighborhoods against? Visitors who want to shop in local stores, eat at local restaurants, and otherwise help locals make money? Sounds awful.

At least this effort to undermine Airbnb is direct and honest. Last month ShareBetter got caught running ads in D.C. featuring a woman who claimed to have watched tourists using Airbnb ruin her Washington neighborhood. The woman turned out to be an actress from New York City.

All this is part of a national effort. Last year the American Hotel and Lodging Association outlined plans to "actively coordinate with state and local hotel associations, along with affordable housing, neighborhood and tenant groups, consumer groups, labor, and others" to create a narrative that roomsharing is wrecking neighborhoods and hurting average Americans. In reality, the growth of services like Airbnb has helped people make extra money from unused space in their homes and lowered hotel prices during peak times like New Years' Eve, the Super Bowl, and other major events.

Hotels have controlled the hospitality sector of the economy for decades, with little external competition. Like taxi companies facing upstart ridesharing services, they're now calling for special favors from the government instead of honestly competing in the market. Banning the competition might be the only way that terrible hotels (like New York's Hotel Carter, rated the dirtiest hotel in America on Trip Advisor) can survive in a bigger marketplace with more consumer options. But more choices and more freedom are better for just about everyone else—and narcing on your neighbors isn't very nice.

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  1. All this is part of a national effort. Last year the American Hotel and Lodging Association outlined plans to “actively coordinate with state and local hotel associations, along with affordable housing, neighborhood and tenant groups

    Affordable housing groups attacking Airbnb? Wouldn’t it be more useful to attack terrible zoning laws that intentionally restrict the number of apartments and houses and drive up costs? Don’t see how letting somebody use your unused house/apartment is anybody’s business.

    …of course, ignoring how stupid this idea can be in cities/states that have truly insane tenant laws that can allow the “borrower” to squat instead.

    Government — is there anything it cannot ruin? I’m betting, with minimal effort, they could ruin orgasms.

    1. Government — is there anything it cannot ruin?

      What really galls me about people defending government is that they cannot see how the very existence of coercive monopolistic government directly entices corruption in this manner. Absent coercive monopolistic government, these hoteliers would have to actually compete on the merits.

      It’s no wonder statists think markets are broken.

    2. Just try to have an orgasm with this in your visual field. Go ahead, try.

      1. Great. I now hate humanity.

      2. You know people are gonna take that as a challenge, right?

        1. [taps side of nose, winks]

    3. “Affordable housing” is a buzz-word that gets attached to any progressive cause whether it makes any sense or not.

      1. All housing is affordable: the current owners/renters can afford it.

    4. I’m betting, with minimal effort, they could ruin orgasms.

      Before you have that orgasm, have you, and any other participating adults, signed your Active Consent Forms, in triplicate, had them notarized and filed them with the Department of Mutually Consensual Sexual Contact?

      1. Please allow 4-7 weeks for processing, at which point a Mutually Consensual Sexual Contact monitor will be assigned to your case.

    5. Airbnb IS affordable housing. Full stop.

  2. With AirBnB you might actually get a complimentary cookie that isn’t stale and crumbling! The horror!

    1. Last weekend I used AirBnB to rent the lower floor of a house in the Historic district of Norfolk, Va, and it really seemed to be helping that neighborhood.

      Across the street was a boarded up house, the last one on the block. While some houses had been bull-dozed, they were generally converted into soulless condos, AirBnB seems to encourage renovation of the properties by independent owners.

      We had first floor of house that was built 1908, and completely renovated in in 2015.
      Our floor gave us a 2000 square foot suite with 5 star quality for $125

      Monster Master Bedroom with private bathroom
      and closet big enough for someone who is not the Master; a spouse perhaps ?
      Normal Master Bedroom with 1/2 bath
      Gourmet kitchen, modern Tri-door icebox

      Icebox pre-filled a variety of 25 beers pre-chilled to 38 degree F.
      (note suggested “Take a beer, Leave a beer” )

      With over fifty new restaurants within 5 blocks, this really seems to be helping rebuild the neighborhood.

  3. Banning the competition might be the only way that terrible hotels (like New York’s Hotel Carter, rated the dirtiest hotel in America on Trip Advisor) can survive in a bigger marketplace with more consumer options.

    This is making the bizarre assumption that there wasn’t any competition among NYC’s hundreds of hotels before Airbnb ever existed.

    1. Yes but that was civilized competition between firms that were members of the guild, who knew they were following the laws because they helped write them.

      1. The notion that Airbnb is going to shape up some flophouse is ludicrous. They’re a flophouse because they’re cheap and they look the other way.

        1. According to Google the Carter is closed permanently. Probably due to competition from all those other hotels that couldn’t shut it down for 90 years.

          1. It’s possible the carter would have closed years earlier had it not been for the city of New York using it as a homeless shelter.

  4. “New York has strong laws to protect affordable housing”

    Huh? How exactly does cracking down on AirBnB hosts “protect affordable housing?”

    1. Do any of the laws that ostensibly protect affordable housing actually protect affordable housing?

    2. You’re thinking about it too hard.

    3. The thought behind it is that rich people will by up all the housing in a city an turn them into AirBnBs and the poor will all be left on the streets. I know it makes no sense but I believe that is the thought.

      1. They already do this, and it’s called ‘renting’, or AKA plenty of people’s retirement plan. I.E. buy a few homes as you can, rent them to people, live on the income / pay off the mortgage on the backs of the rent.

        It’s actually one of the effective ways to become wealthy and retire comfortably in these United States.

      2. Doesn’t have to be all the housing. In a tight market like NYC, any housing removed from the supply will drive prices up.

    4. Simple supply and demand. When someone turns their apt bldg into an AirBnb spot, it’s removed from the supply of residential housing. When supply decreases, prices go up.

  5. “Nark” is the preferred spelling. “Narc” is a drug enforcement agent or informant.

  6. They vote for the oppressive government and then wonder why they are being persecuted. I can’t feel sorry for them!

    1. Yes, every human being in a particular jurisdiction is responsible for every act of the rulers of that jurisdiction, regardless of whether or not an individual human voted for said rulers, or at all.

      Terrible argument, yo.

        1. Also, new commenter here either misspelled “Africanus” or chose to name himself after an obscure breed of pariah dog. I’d believe either one.

  7. “Narc” is a very 1970’s slang word. “Fink” works too, but there’s an anti-jew flavor to that. Then there’s “rat” and “stoolie” (referring to a stool pigeon). But these are even older. Is there a more modern slang word we can use? A “comey”, for example?

    1. Snitch.

  8. I don’t think you can seriously dispute that AirBnb drives up residential housing prices by reducing supply. They aren’t lying about that.

    Of course, it’s also true that any hotel does the same, whether a “legal” Hilton or an “illegal” AirBnb spot. So the hotel lobby is completely insincere in their arguments.

    1. So what if it does. It’s none of their fucking business what a property owner does with their property.

    2. As mentioned above, I was able to rent rooms via AirBnB for me and family at half the rate of La Quinta, and got twice the quality. We ate in the local restaurants twice, and even provided tips and wages to seemingly local human beings.

      If we only had the “legal” spots, we would have stayed home before spending $250 per night with the Hilton whores.

      While I may not buy every supply-side argument, this is just basic economics, and it seems to working.

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