NEW YORK (AP) — Home-sharing giant Airbnb said it had to stop accepting some reservations in New York City as new rules on short-term rentals went into effect on Tuesday, big for travelers wanting to avoid the high costs Changes would entail a Big Apple hotel.
The new rules aim to achieve an exclusion criterion whereby city landlords and residents rent out their apartments for short stays by the week or night to tourists or other people in the city.
Under the new system, rentals of less than 30 days are only allowed if hosts register with the city. Hosts must agree to be physically present at the home throughout the rental period and to share the living space with their guest. Also, more than two guests at a time are not allowed, so families are practically excluded.
Platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and others aren’t allowed to process rentals for unregistered hosts — and as of earlier this week, few had successfully registered. According to its own statements, the city approved almost 300 of the more than 3,800 applications received.
Officials and housing advocates who had pushed for the restrictions said they were necessary to prevent apartments becoming de facto hotels.
“In New York City, residential housing should be for residential use,” said Murray Cox of Inside Airbnb, a housing advocacy group that collects data on the company’s presence in cities around the world.
Airbnb has challenged the rules in court, arguing that they are essentially a ban and would harm visitors looking for affordable accommodation.
But as of Aug. 21, the company — which had 38,500 active non-hotel listings in New York City as recently as January — said it was no longer accepting new short-term reservations from hosts who hadn’t provided a city registration number or documentation proving it was in progress. It said that once the city’s verification system is fully in place and operational, short-term registration on its website without a registration number will no longer be allowed.
Some owners of smaller homes said they were being unfairly targeted and lumped in with larger apartment buildings.
“I think that’s a clear sign that our elected officials have let us down,” said Krystal Payne, who lives in a Brooklyn two-family house and rented one of the units to pay her mortgage.
The ordinances were passed by the city in January last year, but weren’t stopped by legal action until last month.
While online rental listing services have offered travelers more options in New York — and a financial gain for residents who rent out their homes while vacationing — they’ve also prompted complaints that scarce neighborhood housing is being gobbled up by tourists.
Regular tenants complained about buildings that suddenly felt like hotels, with strangers walking the hallways and the occasional party in rental units. Investors bought condo units or entire townhouses, then made fortunes illegally nightly renting.
“Registration provides a clear path for hosts to comply with the city’s long-established laws, protecting travelers from illegal and unsafe lodging, while ending the prevalence of illegal short-term rentals,” said Christian Klossner, executive director of the Office of Special Enforcement a statement to the city.
In guidance released after the legal decision last month, Airbnb told New York City hosts that if possible, they should either register with the city or switch to long-term stays. The company also said that all existing short-term reservations with a check-in through December 1 could proceed and refund the processing fees, while those with check-in dates after that would be canceled and refunded.
Airbnb’s global policy director, Theo Yedinsky, called the rule changes a blow to “the thousands of New Yorkers and small suburban businesses who depend on shared apartments and tourism funds to make ends meet.”
“The city is sending a clear message to millions of potential visitors who now have fewer lodging options when visiting New York City: ‘You are not welcome,'” he said.