Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New York State Senator makes Classic Arguments Against Vacation Rentals

The Senator Testified to the New York City Council
About Problems Caused by Short Term Rentals

A New York State senator makes the classic arguments against Short Term Rentals, including:
  • they are illegal.
  • they decrease availability of housing for long term residents
  • they create noise and crime.
  • they are unsafe
  • everyone complains about them
Note how she labels STRs as illegal throughout her presentation, yet the presentation is about changes that she wants to see in the laws in order to make them illegal.

You'll find the same types of arguments being made in any community that wants to eliminate or restrict STRs.

The proliferation of illegal hotel operations has removed thousands of affordable apartments from an already tight housing market, disrupted the lives countless permanent residents who live in the buildings where the illegal hotels are operating, decreased the revenue the City receives from hotel taxes, and ruined many tourists’ visits in New York. The internet has made it easier than ever to advertise illegal hotels, which are residential units that are designated under the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law and City zoning rules as permanent residences but are improperly used as transient hotel rooms. Even a brief search of the internet reveals hundreds of advertisements for illegal hotels. Housing advocates estimate that there are many thousands of these units being operated in more than 300 buildings across New York City, primarily in Manhattan and North Brooklyn but increasingly in other areas as well. Building owners and third party managers convert residential units, the majority of which are located in buildings with rent-regulated and Single Room Occupancy tenants, into illegal hotel units in order to make more money on the apartments than the law allows.

Permanent residents living in buildings with illegal hotels regularly report significant increases in noise, harassment and crime, and decreases in building-wide services. Residents are frequently extremely concerned that the safety of their buildings is undermined by strangers coming and going from their buildings at all hours. Because illegal hotels do not comply with applicable fire and safety laws that are required for buildings used for transient occupants, they pose a serious threat to the safety of building residents, tourists, and any first responders who are called in to deal with emergencies. Tourists who sign up to stay in illegal hotels through various websites are generally not aware that the units do not conform to fire and building safety standards, and are often distressed to find that their accommodations are cramped, illegal, and do not provide hotel services. When tourists have bad experiences in illegal hotels, New York City’s international reputation as a tourist and business destination is harmed. In fact, just this week my office received a complaint from a visitor from Virginia who paid more than $2,500 to stay in what turned out to be an unsanitary and unsafe illegal hotel unit that she found via the internet this past summer.

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