Hotel industry helping New York City find illegal Airbnb rentals

Hotel industry helping New York City find illegal Airbnb rentals
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New York City runs an Office of Special Enforcement that reportedly devotes 95 percent of its time scrutinizing rental listings — many of which are on Airbnb — to assess if they violate state or local laws writes Bloomberg.

The office’s efforts to crack down on illegal homesharing listings are being bolstered by the the hotel industry, which is pumping its own time and resources into helping the city find such listings.

According to the report, Share Better, an anti-Airbnb organization formed between hotel union and industry leaders, is hiring private investigators to help the city find Airbnbs and other types of listings that in violation of the city’s short-term rental ban.

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Investigators book listings on services like Airbnb and Homeaway and then show up in person to see if the listing violates the city’s rules. Local laws stipulate that it’s illegal to rent a whole unit for more than 30 days if the host is not present or if the listing is being rented out to more than two people.  

Airbnb fired back at the hotel industry’s efforts to find illegal listings on their platforms in the city.

“The hotel industry and its lobbyists using Share Better to spy on New Yorkers and delivering that information to city agents is a disturbing violation of basic privacy,” Josh Meltzer, Airbnb’s head of New York public policy, told Bloomberg. “The city should reject these second-rate KGB spy tactics and work with Airbnb to sensibly regulate home-sharing.”

Airbnb and the hotel industry have been engaged in a bitter battle as the homesharing site has grown and cut into hotel’s market share. In April, The Hill reported on documents from the hotel industry’s trade association’s annual meeting detailing its plan to combat Airbnb on Capitol Hill.

The trade group, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, has backed legislation that would make it harder for Airbnb to operate in some states and cities, including New York.