Airbnb and Me

NYC Judge Rules Airbnb Stay Illegal, Fines Host $2,400

So much for that relaxing Memorial Day getaway.
(Photo: Airbnb)

(Photo: Airbnb)

Temporary apartment renting service Airbnb has had its share of tussles with New York law. In 2011, the city instituted an illegal hotels statute that makes it illegal for users to rent out their apartments for less than 30 days, effectively rendering Airbnb hosts subject to fines. Last September, the city council jacked up the fines that could be levied upon illegal hoteliers advertising their wares through Airbnb from $800 to $2,500.

Now, CNET reports that a New York administrative law judge has fined an Airbnb host $2,400 for breaking the illegal hotel law when he leased out part of his condo on the site, arguing that the unit “may only be used as private residences and may not be rented for transient, hotel, or motel purposes.”

Airbnb attempted to come to the rescue of the host, Nigel Warren, and helped get his fine knocked down from $7,000 after zoning charges were dismissed. But even with Airbnb’s crack team of experts at his side, Mr. Warren is still expected to pony up the $2,400.

“This decision runs contrary to the stated intention and the plain text of New York law, so obviously we are disappointed,” Airbnb said in a statement provided to CNET. “But more importantly, this decision makes it even more critical that New York law be clarified to make sure regular New Yorkers can occasionally rent out their own homes.”

CNET notes that this doesn’t mean the city is planning to crack down on all Airbnb hosts, so maybe don’t yank your listings just yet. Instead, NYC only investigates when someone files a complaint. For the sake of your bank account, you might want to make sure your landlord isn’t a dick before listing your apartment.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com