NYC Cracks Down On Apartments That Rent Out Rooms For Less Than 30 Days

April 30th, 2012

New York is the city that never sleeps. It can’t sleep, lest people exercise their inherent liberty to be left the hell alone at night. The statists can’t let that happen, now can they.

Almost two years ago I blogged about a proposed law in New York that would ban residential homes from renting rooms on a short-term basis.

New York will not let this happen.

NYC & Company, the city’s “official tourism arm” (I’m not quite sure what that means, other than the fact that they are quite good at rent-seeking) said of renting apartments: “This isn’t a business practice we support, and we strongly discourage people. It’s a real case of buyer beware.”

From the Times, I learn that this law was enacted back in 2010.  And now New York City is cracking down!

Armed with a new state law, the city has spent the past year cracking down on the growing industry of short-term rentals; since the law took effect last May, nearly 1,900 notices of violation have been issued at hundreds of residential buildings.

“The issue of illegal hotels is one that’s been a mounting problem in the city over the last several years,” said John Feinblatt, chief policy adviser to the mayor, pointing to a tenfold increase in complaints about them since 2006, to about 1,000 last year.

The new law made it illegal to rent out apartments in residential buildings for under 30 days. Owners of an apartment or a town house may still rent out one or two rooms, provided that they live in the home and everyone has access to common areas like the kitchen. Illegal hotels found by the city included small rental buildings, condos and town houses, and many of them were hiding in plain sight.

I’m glad this is so high on New York’s priority list.

Some small proprietors said they were trying to stay afloat by looking for longer-term guests, who need a room for at least 30 days — one woman who went that route estimated her business was off by 80 percent — but many were just trying to keep their heads down.

“Inspect us for safety; tax us; we welcome it — just don’t shut us down,” said the owner of a town house who offers short-term rentals in three apartments in the building, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid attracting inspectors’ attention. He said he had gone into debt renovating the town house, in which he lives, to accommodate guests, and so could not afford to stop renting the units.

If the problem is safety, inspect them. Fine them. Require certain safety steps. But banning them? Absurd.

I’m sure the hotel industry is laughing all the way to the bank. Why compete when you can put your competitiors out fo business.