April 26, 2017
Mayor budgets $1.6 million for more inspectors to crack down on illegal hotels

Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to expand a citywide crackdown on illegal short-term rentals, pumping an extra $2.9 million into the effort over the next two fiscal years.

The city’s Office of Special Enforcement will add 16 staffers to the 32-member team devoted to inspecting and fining landlords and leaseholders who rent entire apartments out for fewer than 30 days, which breaks state law.

“The mayor is hiring more building inspectors, lawyers and police officers, among other staff, to significantly beef up enforcement against property owners who rent homes as hotel rooms,” said mayoral spokeswoman Melissa Grace. “From tall towers in Midtown Manhattan to brownstones in Brooklyn and entire buildings on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, this illegal activity takes permanent housing off the market, puts people at risk and damages neighborhoods.”

The mayor’s executive budget, announced Wednesday, still requires City Council approval. It includes an extra $1.6 million in fiscal year 2018 and $1.3 million in fiscal year 2019 for the enforcement push, according to the mayor’s office.

An expanded Airbnb law, passed by the state Legislature last June, went into effect in the city Jan. 31. The law bans listings for illegal short-term rentals, putting leaseholders on the hook. Since then 15 entities have been slapped with 128 violations, resulting in $232,000 in proposed fines.

The city will launch an ad campaign in the fall to tell residents about the new rules and expects complaints about illegal rentals to grow by 50% in response, the mayor’s office said.

Airbnb asked de Blasio to spare its law-abiding hosts, noting the company had removed more than 4,000 listings it deemed suspicious since late 2015.

“Airbnb supports efforts to crack down on illegal hotels that remove housing from the market and welcomes the opportunity to work with the City to target truly bad actors,” said Airbnb spokesman Peter Schottenfels. “We hope the mayor recognizes that the 96% of Airbnb hosts who share the home in which they live responsibly should not be subjected to fines and harassment by city agents.”