Welcome to the Travel Forums

Why join TravelBlog?

  • Membership is Free and Easy
  • Your travel questions answered in minutes!
  • Become part of the friendliest online travel community.
Join Now! Join TravelBlog* today and meet thousands of friendly travelers. Don't wait! Join today and make your adventures even more enjoyable.

* Blogging is not required to participate in the forums

AirBnB ruled illegal in NYC

Participation in AirBnB, an online site where travelers can rent out rooms on a temporary basis from tenants, has been ruled illegal in New York City.
10 years ago, May 21st 2013 No: 1 Msg: #170937  
NYC state law states that rules that short-term lease of residences (less than 30 days) are illegal unless zoned as a hotel property. While many leases stipulate you cannot sublet your unit regardless, AirBnB has been popular in major tourist destinations like New York. Read the latest developments here.

Have you used AirBnB to travel through major cities or to make some extra income on the side? I know I, for one, am guilty of subletting my Manhattan apartment out to other travelers when I left town, but was fortunately not slapped with any fines (from the landlord or city officials - yikes).
[Edited: 2013 May 21 17:58 - Stephanie and Andras:35953 ]
Reply to this

9 years ago, June 16th 2013 No: 2 Msg: #171820  
This is an interesting development. I don't own or even rent a place to sub-lease, but have used AirBnB on a couple of occasions as an alternative to hotels. I wonder if other cities will also scrutinize such practices in the future. Reply to this

9 years ago, June 26th 2013 No: 3 Msg: #172203  
I can understand both sides of this issue.
We really enjoy using airbnb and others when we are traveling.
Reply to this

9 years ago, July 23rd 2013 No: 4 Msg: #173207  
B Posts: 2,052
In related news, RelayRides has suspended operations in New York State. They acted as a broker for car owners willing to rent their cars to travelers and others. Their rates were notably lower than those from the commercial rental chains, some of the highest in the US.

The company was served a cease-and-desist order after the New York Insurance Department determined the service violated state insurance laws; specifically one that makes the car owner ultimately liable for all accidents involving the vehicle, regardless of who is driving it. Most New York car insurance policies prohibit use of the vehicle by unlisted drivers for precisely that reason. Many policies in other states have similiar restrictions.

Summary: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/car-sharing-service-to-stop-operating-in-new-york/

Legalese: http://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumer/relay_rides_consumer_alert.htm

Reply to this

8 years ago, March 4th 2015 No: 5 Msg: #189108  
B Posts: 16
Has anyone ever used any other sites like Airbnb? They seem to be the only one doing that sort of thing at the moment.

It does look like its currently only New York where its having serious issues though, a few problems in Barcelona too I believe but fine everywhere else. Reply to this

8 years ago, March 4th 2015 No: 6 Msg: #189115  
We've used homeaway.com and had success. Reply to this

7 years ago, July 18th 2015 No: 7 Msg: #192031  
It would be interesting to see a long-term study on how the illegalization of such services in New York versus legalized services (with the purchase of a permit) in places like Oregon (Portland legalizes Airbnb-style short-term rentals) pans out in the long run. Reply to this

7 years ago, July 18th 2015 No: 8 Msg: #192037  
B Posts: 2,052
In response to: Msg #192031
Uber in Europe provides a similar study, with much more data. The results so far is that when sharing/casual work is officially made illegal, people just go underground. Uber in particular refuses in European countries to block signups that can't provide the needed licenses first. Officials have responded by raiding offices in multiple countries and seizing records, similar to what happened to AirB&B in New York.
My personal view is that anyone providing services should have to meet the same background check, licensing, and tax requirements to create a level playing field. How they choose to solicit business after meeting those requirements is up to them. Reply to this

7 years ago, August 10th 2015 No: 9 Msg: #192469  
In response to: Msg #192037 I agree with Ezra...competition with a level playing field. Reply to this

7 years ago, August 13th 2015 No: 10 Msg: #192546  
B Posts: 10
Why can't the governments just fuck off and leave us alone. I am sick and tiered of them telling us what one can or cannot do. We are all adults and know what to do. I didn't use AirBNB as yet but I will in the future..... Reply to this

7 years ago, August 16th 2015 No: 11 Msg: #192606  
B Posts: 2,052
In response to: Msg #192546
Unfortunately, many many people prey on visitors, and few travelers know how to handle those types of situations. I like knowing an appropriate level of background check has been done before trusting my life/possessions to someone I don't know, in a country I don't know well. Imagine ending up in one of these:

Airbnb host raped two women who stayed with him:

Uber driver accused of attempted murder:

A google search will produce many more. Reply to this

7 years ago, August 16th 2015 No: 12 Msg: #192607  
In response to: Msg #189108 I have used both AirBnB & VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) for both short stay & long stay rentals. I prefer AirBnB as they provide more protection for renters & owners. I have never had a problem with either one. The opposition is from the strong hotel & taxi lobbies. If one is staying in a location for several or more days, vacation rentals are much more convenient & a lot cheaper, esp if you don't want to eat out 3x/day. Reply to this

7 years ago, August 16th 2015 No: 13 Msg: #192608  
B Posts: 10
There is always a risk in whatever you do when traveling. Stories like this are true and it happens. But they are used to smear 99% of the good people who offer these services. I don't have the time to research it but I am Shute you find the same amount of evil stuff in normal hotels, hostels, the taxi industry, etc.

I am not saying they are totally save and one has to be careful in any situation. But for the governments to use this examples to regulate, regulate...... Until we live in a totalitarian society.

Unfortunate there is no such thing as a completely safe life. Reply to this

7 years ago, August 20th 2015 No: 14 Msg: #192666  
B Posts: 14
I have a little insight to this problem having stayed at many airbnbs AND owning a guesthouse on my property which I rent out on a nightly basis. People can book to stay at my place either directly (I have a website), through VRBO/HomeAway, through Flipkey or through airbnb. While I love airbnb because I’ve found some of the coolest places to stay on it, there are 3 problems that I see with airbnb.

1) The airbnb group is the group that has the least experience running a business, and I have met quite a few that aren’t paying sales tax. They’re not doing this with bad intentions but simply because they don’t know how. Airbnb doesn’t make it easy to pay sales tax either, as it’s not built in to the pricing like it is with VRBO and Flipkey.
2) There’s a reason municipalities have zoning requirements. If you lived on a nice quiet street, or you lived in a secured building in a large city, would you want strangers constantly coming and going from your neighbor’s property and sometimes late at night? If a home is in an area that the city does not allow you to operate a lodging business, don’t do it. Period. If you want to start a lodging business, buy a property that allows you to do so legally. Most business owners know this early stage of starting a business.
3) Airbnb has become extremely successful, and many of the established b&b owners hate the competition. Airbnb gives them more competition than the hotels do, because the airbnb places are cool. What they don’t realize is that they could list on it, and they might soon be getting half of their bookings through airbnb as they get directly. I now do. Yes, there’s more competition, but competition can be a good thing if it helps you improve and in my town’s case, it helped get the word out that there are alternatives to hotels.

As far as the security issues that were brought up, both the hosts and the guests can receive reviews that are public on the airbnb site. If that’s a concern for someone, and it should be especially if you’re staying in someone’s home, you should not stay there if there are not a sufficient number of reviews on the host to make you comfortable. And if you’re a woman looking for a place to stay, don’t rent a room from a man in his house. I don’t know if that was the scenario with the rapes that occurred at the airbnbs that have made the news recently, and while I’m not blaming the victims one bit, that would be a good way to avoid trouble. Airbnb should not be blamed for this. There’s danger with Craigslist too.

Airbnb is a great company. I’d much prefer to stay at a place with a kitchen that isn’t just a bed facing a tv, like you get in most hotels. Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.
Reply to this

7 years ago, August 21st 2015 No: 15 Msg: #192670  
B Posts: 2,052
In response to: Msg #192666
Your first two items describe exactly why AirBnB got raided in NYC (and other places). Owners don't realize they are running a lodging business, and don't know about/deliberately ignore the legal requirements. Depending on your point of view, AirBnB either turns a blind eye to this behavior or actually encourages it. I suspect they will eventually be forced legally to verify paperwork when someone signs up in many countries.
Reply to this

7 years ago, August 21st 2015 No: 16 Msg: #192671  
B Posts: 14
I can appreciate what you're saying, but I don't think airbnb is turning a blind eye or encouraging it. Flipkey and VRBO do nothing to ensure people are operating their places legally, yet they're not catching any flack at all. I also know a few places that aren't on any of these websites and are just operating on their own with their own websites, and they haven't started paying sales tax...yet. I offer to help, but it takes the new guys a while to figure it out. It's a different kind of industry. We're not as visible as a retail store on Main Street. As far as airbnb being forced to verify any kind of paperwork, all I have is something from the Idaho Secretary of State saying I'm a dba/sole proprietor. My town doesn't require a business license. I called the city to confirm that I could operate my guesthouse in my neighborhood, and I got the verbal ok. I can't remember if it's because my property is zoned R4, but regardless, I have nothing in writing saying I'm legal. I don't know what could be done to verify a place is operating under the law. It's really on the owner to be responsible. I think airbnb is just growing so rapidly and all of a sudden, there are a lot of people doing the wrong thing. I can't think of a more effective solution to the problem than fining them, which is exactly what they're doing. I'm not saying it's right, but it does seem to be getting the word out that it's not ok how people are doing it. Reply to this

7 years ago, December 31st 2015 No: 17 Msg: #194678  
In response to: Msg #189108 We have used VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) all over the world. This has led to some very interesting experiences. Also, booking.com now includes apartments. We especially like using booking.com because we are able to get an aerial view of all the options and select the particular location where we can most fully immerse ourselves in what we have come to see and experience. Also, we often are able to book with "free cancellation," so we will have no penalties should our plans shift around, which they frequently do! VRBO rentals often require longer stays, like 5 days or more, and also advance deposits. Booking.com apartments can be booked for fewer days, and some collect payment when you arrive. Very nice.

That said, we always stay at least 3-5 days in each location before we move on. We feel that anything less is only a "glimpse," not "the full experience." And wherever we stay, we immediately learn our "neighborhood" so we can have the sense of "living" there, at least briefly. Reply to this

6 years ago, April 26th 2017 No: 18 Msg: #200726  
My daughter and I have used airbnb in Vancouver (where we were told that if anyone asked, we were staying with friends), Hawaii, Copenhagen, and Oahu. We've met the most interesting people, saved a bundle on hotel rates, and found the whole process easy and friendly. Right now we have 2 booked for Italy next month. I am comfortable enough with the process that they have for rating both guests and guesthouses. I like the fact that people who live in very expensive locations can afford to do so because of airbnb. "I'm with the government and I'm here to help!" Um, no. The government just wants their piece of the pie. Reply to this

Tot: 0.099s; Tpl: 0.008s; cc: 9; qc: 30; dbt: 0.0505s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1mb