Officials begin campaign against illegal hotels

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New York – Today, at a press conference at City Hall, the #ShareBetter coalition representing over 100 elected officials, housing groups, and community activists launched a new campaign to combat the rampant threat of Airbnb and other illegal hotel operations in New York City. Committed to expanding affordable housing and maintaining safe living conditions in our neighborhoods, #ShareBetter will leverage paid media, grassroots organizing, public education, and potential legislative action to counter massive Airbnb spending, and prevent the illegal hotel industry from continuing to violate state law and eliminate scarce affordable housing.

Illegal hotels are using third party operators like Airbnb to unlawfully convert residential units into more lucrative short-term rentals, exacerbating New York’s housing crisis by depleting an already scare supply of affordable housing. Airbnb is by far the most egregious enabler of illegal hotels that have plagued New York City for more than a decade, and is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General for violating the law.

According to Connotate, a data extraction company that examined Airbnb’s website, Airbnb has a total of 19,522 New York City listings on their site. A study of data from Airbnb’s own website showed that nearly two-thirds (64%) of the apartments listed on Airbnb as of January 2014 covered an entire apartment and were being offered in violation of state law. In addition, more than 200 of the offerings came from just five hosts, and just 12% of hosts actually control 30% of all New York City listings. The illegal hotel problem continues to grow, as Airbnb is only one of many illegal hotel operators preying on New York City’s limited supply of affordable housing.

Council Member Mark Levine said:
 

"With rents rapidly rising but wages remaining stagnant, sharing a spare bedroom can help you earn a little extra money to make ends meet.  In reality it has also created a "sublet economy" that's seriously hurting tenants and bleeding units from our already scarce affordable housing stock. Make no mistake: AirBnB and other companies aren't waging an aggressive and misleading PR campaign to help the tenant with the spare room. They're fighting for the landlords who have turned empty apartments -- previously occupied by permanent tenants -- into illegal hotels. That's where these corporations make their huge profits. It's high time that we fought back and enforced the laws they are breaking. We must hold them accountable for encouraging illegal activity, creating a nuisance, and owing millions in unpaid hotel tax dollars."

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