Update: Illegal Hotels Legislation & Increased Investment

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New York City is make tremendous gains in the fight against illegal hotels and their threat to the city’s withering affordable housing. Progressive Caucus members are seeing considerable returns for their advocacy with new tools and resources to address this burgeoning problem.

Legislative Solutions: Progressive Council Members Rosenthal, Rodriguez and Levine are each the sponsors of bills that would respectively, stiffen penalties for anyone operating an illegal hotel (I. 826), increase transparency on enforcement of illegal conversions of dwelling units (I. 823), and clarify the rights of tenants in a situation where their building owner violates the certificate of occupancy (I.788).  Last month, the Committee on Housing and Buildings, Chaired by Council Member Jumaane D. Williams held a hearing considering these three bills.

Capacity and Approach: The Office of Special Enforcement (OSE), the city’s agency tasked with investigating and prosecuting cases of illegal hotel violations will see a $10M increase over 3 years to provide more proactive monitoring. This new hands-on approach will be lead by OSE’s newly hired Director, Christian Klossner and additional staff that will focus on data analysis and public awareness.

WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:

“Illegal hotels pose a serious threat to our housing stock and those who live in buildings with a revolving door of suitcases. Our current fines are too low to deter illegal hotel operators, some of whom made millions in the last year alone. By increasing fines for illegal hotels, getting a violation will no longer be the cost of doing business. This bill will aid our efforts to preserve housing in New York City,” said Caucus Vice-Chair, Council Member Helen Rosenthal. 

“Since 2009 almost 21,000 units have been converted from resident housing to illegally operating hotels. This clearly makes the case that the City needs to increase penalties to increase our deterrent response and gain clarity as to the effectiveness of those penalties. I am proud to work closely with Council members Rosenthal and Levine to work on legislation that will assuredly cause a slow down if not reversal in the number of illegally operating hotels,”said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

“AirBnb continues to fight for unscrupulous landlords who have turned apartments once occupied by permanent tenants into illegal hotels. Increasing penalties for illegal operators and ensuring legal tenants know their rights is a necessary deterrent to preserve more of the city’s supply of affordable housing. I’m proud to join Council Members Rosenthal and Rodriguez as well a broad coalition of elected officials and activists who are ready to stop those whose illegal behavior destabilize our neighborhoods and drive up rent costs,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“Illegal hotels have become a huge problem in my district, especially in Williamsburg, where illegal listings of entire apartments make up over 20% of the rental market. This only makes our affordable housing crisis worse by decreasing access to housing opportunities and increasing rents. These bills will help us address this issue by holding the bad actors accountable,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso.

IN THE NEWS

NY Daily News, New coalition to launch campaign-style tactics against Airbnb

NY Daily News, New York City will spend $10M to crack down on illegal hotels

NY Daily News, New anti-Airbnb ads accuse company of exploiting minorities in NYC

NY Daily News, NYC lawmakers skeptical on Airbnb’s offer to share long-sought data

NY Daily News, Airbnb agrees to discuss sharing data with officials to crack down on illegal operators

NY Daily News, Ex-narcotics prosecutor hired to go after illegal hotels advertising on home-sharing sites like Airbnb

Capital NY, City Council, Airbnb executives spar during contentious hearing

Capital NY, Airbnb says will it provide information City Council is seeking

Gothamist, Airbnb Accuses NYC Lawmakers Of “An Attack On The Middle Class”

Bisnow NY, $100K FINES THREATENED AGAINST AIRBNB’S ILLEGAL HOTELS

Real Deal Magazine, Airbnb will provide rental data to City Council

The American Prospect, The Unsavory Side of Airbnb

Bloomberg Business, The Rise of Airbnb’s Full-Time Landlords

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About nycprogressives

The Progressive Caucus of the New York City Council is dedicated to creating a more just and equal New York City, combating all forms of discrimination, and advancing public policies that offer genuine opportunity to all New Yorkers, especially those who have been left out of our society’s prosperity.
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