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Brace, Airbnb Abusers, Because Fines Could Skyrocket

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Amidst the city's ongoing effort to crack down on the illegal use of Airbnb, two City Council members have introduced new legislation that would ramp-up penalties for people who misuse the site, NYDN reports. In legislation proposed by Manhattan City Council members Helen Rosenthal and Ydanis Rodriguez, penalties for property owners who take improper advantage of the room-sharing website would increase by ten times for a first offense from $1,000 to $10,000, with the maximum penalty doubling from $25,000 to $50,000. A companion bill introduced by the council members would require City Hall to produce a yearly report listing all complaints, connections, and fines associated with short-term rentals throughout the city.

The legislation, which NYDN thinks will be a shoo-in as it's co-sponsored by council member Jumaane Williams who's also head of the housing committee, is the latest in a series of crackdowns on illegal sublets. In New York, residents are only allowed to sublet their property for less than 30 days if still living on-site. Tenants of rent-controlled apartments face extra scrutiny; a February court ruling declared that stabilized tenants can't turn profits by pedaling their apartments on short-term stay sites. Since the ruling, a handful of stabilized tenants have been outed for their improper use of the site.

A 2014 report by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman uncovered that three quarters of all Airbnb listings in the city are illegal, with one-third of the city's listings coming from commercial operators (not run-of-the-mill residents trying to make a few extra bucks) who are essentially using Airbnb to prop up illegal hotels. In a statement issued by Councilman Rodriguez and quoted by Gothamist, Rodriguez claims that, "hundreds of residents in Washington Heights, Harlem and Crown Heights are being pressured by their landlords to vacate in order to make room for these profitable illegal hotels."
· NYC Council to propose tough penalties for landlords who use sites like Airbnb, in effort to keep affordable housing [NYDN]
· NYC May Dramatically Increase Fines For Those Who Abuse Airbnb [Gothamist]
· Report Slams Airbnb, Says 3/4 of All NYC Listings Are Illegal [Curbed]
· All Airbnb coverage [Curbed]