In response to NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s push to shut down the city’s “illegal hotels” (New York State Law excludes tenants and owners from renting their apartments for less than 30 days unless they cohabitate the units), Airbnb has once again removed dozens of New York City listings from its short term rental accommodations site. Airbnb “superhosts” awoke on November 12th to news that their listings had been removed and all of their future reservations had been cancelled.
Kent Morgan of OneFineFlat said, “It’s unfortunate as we have been loyal Airbnb customers and have shared affordable lodging with guests from around the world through the platform, but as a multi-market rental operator, we will be fine.”
On November 11th, Airbnb went public with the Airbnb Community Compact, a document that lays out the sharing economy leader’s plans for working with cities, such as promising to collect and pay short term lodging related taxes, sharing data on the numbers of hosts and guests using the marketplace in a given area, and removing superhosts operating units in markets that strictly prohibit such operations. “We strongly oppose large-scale speculators who turn dozens of apartments into illegal hotel rooms. Illegal hotels are not in the interests of our guests, our hosts, our company, or the cities where Airbnb hosts share their space,” wrote Airbnb in their Community Compact.
This week, the New York City Mayor’s Office announced plans to fund the Office of Special Enforcement to the tune of $10 million over the next three years to crack down on illegal hotels.
What does this mean for lodging options in markets like New York City? That remains to be seen, but probably not much. The “genie is out of the bottle,” so to speak, and the livelihoods of some real estate owners and short term rental operators depend on the income generated from these properties. Furthermore, consumers are increasingly aware of the value alternative accommodations provide. Airbnb competitor HomeAway reports having more traveler demand for urban properties than they have supply. All commerce is demand driven, and that consumer demand did not vanish when New York City came out against illegal hotels nor when Airbnb removed listings from their site. Consumers can rest assured most of those same options (if not more) will be cropping up on competitor listing sites.
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