NY’s Airbnb Apocalypse Revealed

NY's Airbnb Apocalypse Revealed

The New York City Airbnb Shake-Up: Short-Term Rentals Plunge and Long-Term Rentals Rise

Airbnb in New York City

New York City’s crackdown on short-term rentals has resulted in a dramatic 70 percent decrease in available Airbnb listings. However, thousands of unregistered listings could still be flying under the radar. The enforcement of the new law, which required short-term rental operators to register their homes, took effect on September 5th, and since then, approximately 15,000 short-term listings have vanished from Airbnb. These numbers, provided by Inside Airbnb, an advocacy group tracking listings on the platform, clearly demonstrate the impact of the new regulations.

In August, there were around 22,000 short-term listings in New York City. By September 5th, this number had dwindled to 6,841. Interestingly, some of these short-term listings seem to have shifted to long-term rentals, which can only be booked for 30 days or more. The number of long-term rentals saw a significant surge of approximately 11,000 listings, bringing the total to 32,612 between August 4th and September 5th. The new law does not require registration for long-term rentals, offering an alternative avenue for hosts to continue offering accommodations while avoiding the compliance issues associated with short-term renting.

However, despite the decrease in short-term rentals and the increase in long-term rentals, Inside Airbnb estimates that around 4,000 rentals have disappeared from Airbnb since the law’s enforcement. This suggests that some listings have fallen through the cracks and remain unaccounted for.

The rise in long-term rentals could be indicative of the law’s effectiveness in urging hosts to offer accommodations to individuals staying in New York City for 30 days or longer. The registration requirement aims to enforce existing rules on short-term rentals and comes at a time when high rents and housing insecurity are pressing issues for New Yorkers. Vacation rentals have also gained notoriety for disrupting residential neighborhoods with noise, trash, and safety concerns.

While it is currently impossible to discern at a glance whether an Airbnb listing is registered with the city, Inside Airbnb’s findings reveal that only 28 short-term rentals in New York City mention having a registration number from the city. The legitimacy of these numbers remains uncertain, especially when considering the discrepancy between the number of short-term rentals reported by Inside Airbnb and the number officially registered with the city.

Ultimately, hosts will be required to display their registration numbers on their listings. As of Monday, New York City has received 3,829 registration applications, reviewed 896 of them, and granted 290. On the other hand, the office has denied 90 applications and return another 516 for necessary corrections or further information. The aim is to streamline the registration process and ensure compliance with the new law.

Airbnb has taken steps to comply with the registration requirement, blocking reservations for unregistered short-term rentals since mid-August. However, automatic cancellations for stays in unregistered apartments will only commence on December 1st to avoid disrupting travel plans for existing guests. Expedia Group, the parent company of Vrbo, is also actively collaborating with the city and its partners to meet the requirements of the new law without adversely affecting the city’s travelers and tourism economy. Unfortunately, Booking.com did not provide any comment on the matter.

Notably, amid the somewhat chaotic implementation of the new law, several listings appear to be slipping through the cracks. A search on Airbnb for apartments in New York City accommodating more than two guests still returns multiple results that may violate the regulations. Entire homes are still available for booking, with some offering space for 12 or 14 guests. For instance, a townhouse in Harlem with a backyard firepit and five bedrooms, listed at approximately $1,400 per night, exemplifies the potential gaps in enforcement.

It remains unclear whether some of the listings currently on Airbnb comply with the exemption that permits hotels to list rooms on booking platforms without registering with the city. Airbnb has not commented on potentially illegal listings flagged by ENBLE or the data provided by Inside Airbnb.

Airbnb has vehemently opposed the new regulations in New York City, citing potential negative impacts on its business and host income. To register as a short-term rental host, whether on Airbnb, Vrbo, or any other platform, hosts must meet strict conditions. These include not renting out entire apartments, the host residing in the home and being present during bookings, and a maximum of two guests allowed at a time. Hosts and facilitating platforms that engage in illegal bookings could face penalties, although guests themselves would not be penalized.

Critics argue that the law unfairly targets those attempting to rent out their homes while out of town, as well as smaller landlords seeking occasional short-term rental income. The success or failure of regulating short-term rentals in New York City holds great significance for other major tourist destinations grappling with housing shortages and affordability issues aggravated by the popularity of short-term accommodations. This initial implementation hurdle highlights the complex nature of establishing effective communication between booking platforms and cities while also handling the registration process for thousands of hosts.

Some stays may still be available due to the city’s verification system not being fully operational yet. Christian Klossner, the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement responsible for overseeing the registration process, explains that the office is currently in the initial phase of enforcing the law. The focus is on cooperating with booking platforms to ensure they utilize the registration verification system correctly and cease processing transactions for unregistered stays.

Airbnb is actively collaborating with New York City to establish a functional verification system. Once fully operational, the system will flag registered listings and allow platforms like Airbnb to prevent individuals from hosting unverified short-term rentals, ensuring compliance with the law.

Authorities are also targeting complaints related to illegal occupancy, further emphasizing the significance of the registration process. Klossner emphasizes that registration establishes a clear framework for law-abiding hosts while protecting travelers from illegal and unsafe accommodations, ultimately curbing the proliferation of illegal short-term rentals.

For the time being, anyone booking a short-term rental in New York City through Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com may find themselves uncertain about the legality of their accommodation choice. Determining whether a selected apartment is legally registered or operating outside the city’s regulations is currently impossible for guests. The ongoing efforts to regulate short-term rentals in New York City will shape the future of the industry and have far-reaching implications for other tourist hotspots facing similar challenges.

Airbnb Regulation