31 Replies Latest reply: Nov 16, 2015 12:51 AM by serenade RSS

    Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing

    Active Contributor

      This kind of make the complaints we level at Homeaway pale into comparison but tonight Airbnb started calling New York city hosts who had more than one listing and told them that all their bookings would be cancelled and accounts closed.


      The callers were reading some sort of script but the gist of it was that the host has multiple listings and as such is not living in the listing and therefore is not providing the "Authentic Airbnb" experience. As a result their accounts were being terminated.

       

      Most of these guys have never heard of VRBO so for them the world just ended and their income source is cut off completely. As a host who is considering leaving my full time job to live off investing and hosting this is a concerning development to say the least.

        • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
          mtnhomehideaway Senior Contributor

          This is because in NYC, short-term rentals (rentals less than 30 days) are illegal unless the owner is occupying the apartment at the same time.  So, I think that your sympathy for these people whose "world just ended and their income source is cut off completely" is a bit misplaced.  They are breaking the law.

            • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
              Active Contributor

              New York today, maybe your district tomorrow. Airbnb is bringing a blaze of publicity to the concept of short term rentals and cities all over the world are bringing in new regulations to handle the perceived threat. Sure, in some beach community or a vacation seasonal location regulations expressly allowing rentals may be in place already, but thousands of other communities are bringing in rules to ban them.

               

              That is not good for anyone.

                • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                  Senior Contributor

                  secrets11 wrote:

                   

                  That is not good for anyone.

                  I agree 100%!  This is going to affect ALL cities and towns at some point. In fact, it could be coming to your city. I'm afraid this is the beginning of the end of many cities.

                   

                  I have huge sympathy for these owners. I run 2 rentals that I own but don't live in so I would have also been on the chopping block.

                   

                  mtnhome,  Your comment was a bit callous since we all do the same thing and many depend on these rentals to make mortgage payments, pay bills and put kids through college. How would it feel if you woke up one morning and your listing was banished and your bookings cancelled?

                   

                  Owners in NYC got a phone call telling them their listings were removed immediately and all bookings after December 31 were cancelled! Many of these owners thought it was a scam and had no idea the rules and regulations. Airbnb went about this WRONG!! No warning, no emails, nothing. Shame on you Airbnb.

                    • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                      carol Premier Contributor

                      Sophie, I must agree with mtnhomehideaway.  The first responsibility of any business owner is to check out the local and state regulations and abide by them and I can't have any sympathy with folks that don't do this.  

                       

                      While it is odd that AirBnB decided to do this, I suspect it's much better than if the city inspector showed up, tossed out the renters, and fined the owner.  AirBnB recently was required to turn over info on its rentals to NYC, so the handwriting has been on the wall.

                      • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                        margaret CommunityAmbassador

                        sophie wrote:

                         

                        secrets11 wrote:

                         

                        That is not good for anyone.

                        I agree 100%!  This is going to affect ALL cities and towns at some point. In fact, it could be coming to your city. I'm afraid this is the beginning of the end of many cities.

                         

                        I have huge sympathy for these owners. I run 2 rentals that I own but don't live in so I would have also been on the chopping block.

                         

                        mtnhome,  Your comment was a bit callous since we all do the same thing and many depend on these rentals to make mortgage payments, pay bills and put kids through college. How would it feel if you woke up one morning and your listing was banished and your bookings cancelled?

                         

                        Owners in NYC got a phone call telling them their listings were removed immediately and all bookings after December 31 were cancelled! Many of these owners thought it was a scam and had no idea the rules and regulations. Airbnb went about this WRONG!! No warning, no emails, nothing. Shame on you Airbnb.

                         

                         

                        If your rentals are legal in your area you should not be concerned. The rentals that were removed were illegal rentals,

                         

                        It would have been nice if Airbnb had given some notice to the owners but the fact is they are illegal rentals. If as you say some owners had no idea they were operating illegally, they should have known.

                          • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                            mike-dfv Senior Contributor

                            I wonder two things -

                             

                            1) Did Airbnb receive something like a cease and desist order?

                             

                            2) How did they inform the guests, method and message?

                            • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                              sage Senior Contributor

                              If your rentals are legal in your area you should not be concerned. The rentals that were removed were illegal rentals,

                              Legal today does not guarantee legal tomorrow, so no one should be complacent.

                               

                              The explosion in short term rentals over the past few years has created real problems in some communities, and many locations that have not regluated short term rentals in the past are now starting the process to do so. While currently legal VRs may be grandfathered in, that is not assured, and even where they are allowed to continue operation there may be new requirements for licensing, inspections, equipment, fee payments and the like that cut into any current profit.

                               

                              The marketing of Airbnb and HA to convince people that they can make money through short term rentals has been too effective. Many new players are people who never understood misunderstood anything more than that they could make big bucks with no effort nor risk.

                                • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                  thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                  Agreed.

                                   

                                  One possible regulation all of us should be aware of is the requirement of a longer minimum stay for short term rentals.  The definition of short term is being defined by each locality and could a most effective way to impose some control on rentals, as in NY.  When the minimum stay is extended to 30 days, or even to 14 days (as in other locations), the number of housing units being returned to the long term market will increase sharply as the opportunity to house guests for a week or less is not possible. 

                                   

                                  There are many regulations which can make a legal rental challenging to operate.  Regulating minimum stays is very effective.

                                   

                                  As sage notes, the industry's (airbnb, homeaway, flipkey, etc) push to expand may actually stifle their own growth.   Unfortunately, it may pose problems for individual owners as well . . . 

                                  • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                    Contributor

                                    sage wrote:

                                     

                                    Legal today does not guarantee legal tomorrow, so no one should be complacent.

                                     

                                    Completely agree. The City keeps changing the law. It used to be legal to rent out short term for a unit in a 3 unit buildings in San Francisco, but now they made it illegal.

                                    Those who say that theirs is legal, can sit and watch how all these laws could change before their very eyes. I have a permit, live where I rent, but just a few weeks ago, we were all threatened by the ballot that would ban the same law they put into place just this past February.

                                • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                  mtnhomehideaway Senior Contributor

                                  <"mtnhome,  Your comment was a bit callous since we all do the same thing and many depend on these rentals to make mortgage payments, pay bills and put kids through college. How would it feel if you woke up one morning and your listing was banished and your bookings cancelled?">

                                   

                                  Sophie, we all do NOT do the same thing.  My vacation rental is legal.  I have the appropriate insurance and pay the appropriate taxes to the appropriate governmental authorities.  It is up to the vacation rental owner to make sure that he is operating in compliance with the law.  I have no sympathy for scofflaws.  They make problems for ALL vacation rental owners.  If the NYC owners operating illegal short-term rentals now have trouble paying the mortgages on these investment properties, they have only themselves to blame - not AirBnB.  These "poor" NYC apartment owners operating illegal STRs will now have to rent their investment income apartments to long-term renters instead of short-term renters.   Oh my, I feel so sorry for them.

                                    • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                      twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                      AND; I am sure that they could rent  Long term and cover their expenses.....it's not cheap to live in New York! I agree that each owner should find out what the rules/regs are before entering into a business such as this, as with any business. I think rather than being upset with Airbnb for enforcing the current laws, the owners need to band together and confront the government about changing their stance on short term rentals.

                                      • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                        Active Contributor

                                        Wow, what a callous bunch. Maybe you do not realize that in almost every major city all rentals of under 30 days are not allowed and permits are not available for anyone, even if you are willing to go through an application process. As such the VAST majority of listings on homeaway are 'illegal". On the other hand maybe you do realize it and just don't care because your listings are fine and you personally have nothing to worry about.

                                         

                                        If every illegal rental was shut down then VR would only exist in Tourist resorts or B&B properties. Full house rentals and Full apartment rentals would be disallowed. In NYC for example all the home sharing rentals are just fine, it's just the full apartments that are out of luck.

                                         

                                        I wonder do you stay in these illegal rentals when travelling yourself or do you prefer to pay full price for hotels rather than support the criminals?

                                        • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                          hill5185 CommunityAmbassador

                                          Greed is a disgusting trait. IMO!

                                           

                                          Many of these so called "hosts" are buying up large blocks of Real Estate to include entire buildings and operating STR. The issue is seriously causing housing shortages and crisis in some areas.  There was a recent article published on Ryan White - boasting about his enormous growth and income - at the cost of alienating entire neighborhoods. (can't find the darn thing now).

                                           

                                          While some speculate the take down of hosts with multi unoccupied units was done to buy time while negotiating the ins and outs with NYC- I think there is a more telling message delivered by the founders of the companies. Air BnB is built on a unique host experience.

                                           

                                          Here's a snip it from the CFA  (Code For America)  Summit 2015

                                           

                                          "The last thing somebody wants to do is stay in a property-managed apartment that feels like a hotel. Just go to a hotel."

                                           

                                          In a recent interview, Airbnb's CEO said "The last thing somebody wants to do is stay in a property-managed apartment that feels like a hotel. Just go to a hotel. The whole point of Airbnb is this feeling of belonging. You get hospitality. You’re staying in a real person’s home. That is the vast majority of what our community is. That’s what I want our community to be.”

                                           

                                          How do property managers feel about it? Are owners getting favored on Airbnb over property managers? Are we going to see a repeat of the same issues as on other sites that let both owners and property managers list their rentals?

                                           

                                          Interview Brian Chesky and Tim O'Reily

                                           

                                          Air BnB has some extremely progressive ideas! I appreciate the business acumen and staying true to your fundamental mission - DELIVERINNG an experience. Share economy - people to people- connections. It's not about exploitation.

                                           

                                          So, No I don't think your statement is callus. Direct and poignent ! I invest a considerable amount each year to maintain a legitimate business.

                                           

                                          Tracked down the article about Air BnB hosts becoming full time landlords Eric Mason posted this on the Vacation Rental Professionals Group / LinkedIn -

                                      • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                        margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                        l think you are looking at this from the wrong angle. The communities that are bringing in rules to ban VR's are doing so because there are illegal VR's or VR's that are not complying with current regulations such as paying taxes that are operating in these areas. STR are not legal in NYC. Airbnb removing illegal rentals is a good thing for owners who are running their business legally. Owners who are operating illegal rentals are the ones to blame for communities trying to impose new regulation or ban VR's.

                                    • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                      thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                      Airbnb was first mentioned in the NYT as a travel lodgings option in 2009.  In 2012 the first articles appeared questioning the legality of some listings given state and city laws (not to mention condominium and cooperative regulations, and lease agreement clauses prohibiting subleasing or short term rentals).

                                       

                                      The NY and national media have covered the legal questions surrounding Airbnb in NY since 2012.  If owners are surprised by removal of their listings, they have had their heads in the sand for quite an extended period of time.

                                        • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                          bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                          I agree, that in NYC this has been going on for a very long time.  It is what put AirBnB into the minds of the traveling public.  So AirBnB did indeed benefit based on what happened in NYC.  Bad news was at least news, and that has helped AirBnB tremendously.

                                           

                                          That said, an owner that is operating illegally could still have one listing and direct someone to another rental by taking the booking offline. When there is a will there is a way.  I am totally against illegal rentals and owners that do not play by the rules, but people will be people when it comes to making money. Many will find a way around this.

                                           

                                          When we got into this buiness back in 1995, we were inspected and got a transient occupancy certificate.  Then several years later the local planning department changed their mind and told us that they made a mistake due to our zoning.  They grandfathered us in due to their error, but it still did not fly with us.  So for two years we fought back and won, allowing any furture owner to do what we do.  The only stipulation was that we had to have a onsite manager due to the location. But at least we won and can indeed sell to someone that wants to do what we do and live on the ranch and greet guests from all over the world.

                                           

                                          It will be very interesting to follow this issue throughout the country, if not the entire world.  The world is constantly changing and the sharing economy is presenting some challenges.  I am just glad that 2016 will be my last year in this business. Change is not easy for me.

                                            • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                              thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                              bobbie,

                                               

                                              I agree, change is difficult for many of us. 

                                               

                                              You and I, along with a handful of other members on the forum,  are "old timers" in this business.  It was a relatively sleepy business, in my opinion, until airbnb came on the scene. 

                                               

                                              Although some cities and counties have long regulated short term rentals, it is airbnb that has brought attention to short term rentals, by encouraging unprincipled actions (imo), on the part of investors, not the small independent homeowners who have traditionally made up the vacation rental market. 

                                               

                                              Once the "pie" was discovered, the players moved in.  Now they are complaining . . . .

                                               

                                              It's good that you stood up to the local planning department to classify your property properly many years ago.  It's unlikely you would be successful in today's "sharing" climate.  

                                          • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                            susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

                                            I'm surprised no one mentioned why STRs are illegal in most large cities. Hotel lobbies are a major force behind the bans. I don't feel sorry for people that operate a business before learning the legality of the business or operate the business without proper certifications and licenses. I also dislike groups of large businesses banding together to ban Mom and Pop operations.

                                             

                                            It's not very different from rental agencies having laws enacted to only allowed licensed R E agencies, property managers and owners to rent short term. These are state wide regulations in some states such as DE.

                                              • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                I'm surprised no one mentioned why STRs are illegal in most large cities. Hotel lobbies are a major force behind the bans

                                                 

                                                Susan, hotels are but one of the forces interested in regulating short term rentals.

                                                 

                                                In many of the communities in the news, a major force in regulation are resident and housing groups.   Housing stock is diminished and costs for the housing available is rapidly climbing. 

                                                 

                                                Housing issues are reaching crisis proportions in urban/metro areas across the country.  While hotels may benefit to some degree from these regulations, I believe there is an equally strong, if not stronger, voice of the people coming into play. 

                                                 

                                                In many of the areas where short term rentals are depleting long term housing stock, hotels have been enjoying very strong (and growing) occupancy rates.  In Boston, for example, occupancy rates in peak tourist months are over 90%.  The industry is very healthy - and growing steadily - new hotels are under construction and in early development stages.   The expansion of convention center space is in the news.  Yet Boston does not have any regulation of short-term housing. 

                                                 

                                                I think a review of other major hotel markets will demonstrate equally healthy figures for the industry pre short-term housing regulations.

                                                 

                                                There have been a number of links about short-term regulation posted in other threads, too many to re-post here.

                                                 

                                                There are many factors at play in cities and communities across the country (and globally).  I think it's a quality of life issue in many of these locations.  The hotel industry may benefit through the process, but I think the forces driving the movement to regulate are found in the residential community and local and state governments. 

                                                  • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                    victoriam Active Contributor

                                                    This.  Airbnb started off as "sharing economy."   Rent our your extra bedroom now and then and you don't have to live with a full-time roommate, or maybe you can afford to live in a bit nicer neighborhood etc.  Now it has become an investor-based business, with people buying properties exclusively to rent short-term, or converting full-time rentals to short-term.  This drives up rents and reduces available properties for full-time residents.

                                                     

                                                    Here in Wash DC (which is also considering regulations on Airbnb) full-time rent for a tiny basement studio apt. in a desirable location is $1,600+ per month.  If you rent for $100/night on Airbnb for 20 nights a month, you make more.   HOWEVER - I think the real "shake-out" will happen as 1. the market gets saturated (over 1,500 listings press rent prices down.)  2. Guests start to realize that with the extra 20% for fees and taxes, they can often get a better deal (in non-prime season) with a hotel.

                                                • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                  lincoln Senior Contributor

                                                  Is this true? .... and it happened the other night?  Can someone provide a link?   I don't even see it on the Airbnb forums.

                                                  • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                    Contributor

                                                    I wonder if anyone of you is familiar with Rent Control system, that pretty much governs rental market in cities like Paris, NYC and San Francisco. In these cities, the City changes the rules every so often that gives very little option to homeowners to rent their properties in regular rental market without fear of losing their properties altogether. In SF for example, once you rent out your property, you can only raise the rent per the Rent Board guidance (always less than 25 increase, in some years you could only raise up to 0.1%) and you cannot have it back unless the tenant leaves voluntarily. This makes it challenging for homeowners who have their own future plans: ie. buy a property for their children to use one day in the future. In most cities, you can buy a place now, rent it out for a few years, and then get out of the rental market. This is not the case with cities like San Francisco since the law very much sides with tenants. So it is easier for homeowners to rent out their properties on Airbnb, at least they know they can have it back when they want it.

                                                      • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                        thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                        Here's a link for those interested in learning about rent control in NYC:

                                                         

                                                        NYC Rent Guidelines Board

                                                         

                                                        Rental controlled (and rent stabilized) units are one facet of the city's housing market.

                                                         

                                                        It's not clear to me how rent controlled units, other than those which are found to be renting rooms illegally on Airbnb, are an issue here.

                                                         

                                                        People have mixed feelings about rent controlled units, but rent control would seem to be a peripheral issue to the central issue of illegal rentals in NYC.

                                                          • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                            lincoln Senior Contributor

                                                            Appears that the law might be different in Manhattan and other sections of NYC.  Seems that ABB is purging accounts with several listings from the same host.  But  it appears that the law permits buildings with 2 family units, but  multi-unit buildings with 3 or more units appear only to be permitted to be rented for 30+ days  if the unit is not shared with the owner.  If you want to rent for less than 30 days, the host is required to be in the same space as the guest (shared) such as rooms vs entire apartments or homes.  Plus the condo and Co-op documents also apply to renting, leasing, sub-renting etc.

                                                              • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                                thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                                Yes, the regulations are different for "shared" and "entire" short term rentals, although both have come under regulation where none existed previously.

                                                                 

                                                                Yes, condo and coop rules generally prohibit renting, sub-leasing, etc  - as do many long-term lease agreements.  These rules appear to be ignored by many of those posting space on Airbnb.  To be more charitable, perhaps these "owners" are not aware of these prohibitions.  We know short term guests do not thoroughly read lease agreements, I expect long term tenants do not do much better.

                                                          • Re: Tonight Airbnb closed accounts for New York hosts with more than one listing
                                                            lincoln Senior Contributor

                                                            Up to $50K fines proposed, de Blasio administration stepping up enforcement of current law which  apparently only permits rentals of under 30 days if the  permanent resident owner is also living in the unit when 'sharing' his space or renting room(s).   http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/steep-penalties-coming-nyc-landlords-airbnb-article-1.2252541