Tuesday, December 4, 2012

AirBnB Ignores New York City Laws That Prohibit Short Term Rentals

A New York Times article last week reported on the plight of Nigel Warren - and apartment dweller who rented out his bedroom for $100 per night through AirBnB, and was subsequently faced with threats of $40,000 fines for violating local laws that prohibit short term rentals.

Mr Warren was lucky and got away with no fines due to an administrative mistake by the city, but the case points out the risks that hosts take when they rent out space on a short term basis in communities where the laws prohibit short term rentals, and communities where the laws are just vague about the issue.

AirBnB profited from the booking that Mr Warren was almost fined for, but when Mr Warren asked AirBnB why he wasn't warned that he shouldn't rent his apartment in a major city where the laws are not ambiguous, AirBnB's response was that they were sorry that Mr Warren had made a mistake.

Major listing sites like AirBnB and Homeaway can't track every relevant regulation in every little hamlet, but Mr Warren's situation raises a question - is it responsible for the listing site to profit from a listing or a booking in an area like NY City where short term rentals are clearly restricted.

Here's a link to the NY Times article.

Doug Coates

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