Proposed Legislation Dramatically Ups Fines for Airbnb Abusers

Since Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Airbnb report last fall, which found that 72 percent of all Airbnb transactions between 2010 and June 2014 violated state law, City Council members have been intensifying their efforts to stem the illegal use of Airbnb. Recently, Manhattan City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Ydanis Rodriguez have introduced new legislation that would ramp up penalties for people who misuse the site.

Residents are allowed to sublet their property for less than 30 days only if they’re still living on-site. And tenants of rent-regulated apartments face extra scrutiny after a February court ruling declared that stabilized tenants can't profit by offering their apartments on short-term stay sites.

Under the newly proposed legislation, fines for illegal hotels in New York City, which currently hover between $1,600 and $25,000 (plus at least $1,000 a day for up to 45 days of non-compliance), would leap to a minimum of $10,000, and maximum of $50,000, plus a $2,000 civil penalty for each additional day. A companion bill introduced by the council members would require City Hall to produce a yearly report listing the total number of illegal hotel complaints filed, as well as violations issued, and penalties collected.

Currently, the Office of Special Enforcement responds to each complaint of an illegal hotel with a team of investigators from the DOB, the FDNY, and the Department of Finance.