Nov 5, 2013
NYT | Bits The Business of Tecnology Daily Report November 5, 2013: In New York, Airbnb Offers Extra Income but Questionable Legality Inbox. x
In New York, Airbnb Offers Extra Income but Questionable Legality | Airbnb is a service adored by some, despised by others, and most commonly known as a place to rent out your apartment while you are out of town for a few days, Elizabeth A. Harris reports. But doing so is often illegal in New York City, one reason the company has locked horns with the New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman.
|A huge amount of money hangs in the balance of this dispute, including revenue for Airbnb, as well as untold millions in hotel tax dollars that the attorney general says Airbnb has been costing the state every year. Also at stake is a discrete little economy, populated by New Yorkers who make a substantial portion of their income by renting out apartments on a short-term basis through the website, sometimes legally and sometimes not.|
|"Last year we made about $90,000 from this business," said Leslie, who rents out two rooms in her two-family house in Brooklyn through Airbnb. Leslie, a stay-at-home mother who is married to a teacher, agreed to speak only if her address and last name were withheld.|
|In most residential apartment buildings, renting out your space for less than 30 days is illegal, unless you are present when you have that visitor. The restriction does not apply to single- or two-family homes, like Leslie's, but zoning laws may still limit the practice. Leases and building bylaws may also forbid it.|
|Still, even those whose rental side business might surmount legal hurdles were skittish about being identified. Sometimes they did not want their neighbors to know. But they were also worried that the state might choose to make an example of them. Mr. Schneiderman has subpoenaed Airbnb for transaction information on many of its New York users, and the company is fighting to keep the information private. Read more »|
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