Home BUSINESS These five neighborhoods could feel it most when Airbnb shrinks

These five neighborhoods could feel it most when Airbnb shrinks

However, a group of community organizations and elected officials called Airbnb’s economic-benefit argument “overstated.” The benefits to hosts, who can earn extra income, and the local tourism industry, which can profit from guests spending on restaurants, museums and transportation, are “either overstated or outweighed by the higher housing costs that Airbnb expansion has brought about for all New York renters,” according to a brief that the group, which includes Assemblymembers Linda Rosenthal of the Upper West Side and Harvey Epstein of the East Village and Gramercy, filed in the case.

The latest concern about neighborhoods’ economies has a long backstory. As short-term rentals grew more numerous, city officials worried that large numbers of apartments were disappearing as regular, long-term rentals.

After various attempts to regulate short-term bookings, the New York City Council passed Local Law 18 in late 2021. The law requires that all hosts register their units with the city’s Office of Special Enforcement before they can receive payment from hosting platforms like Airbnb. But to register, hosts have to comply with a long list of housing rules, including that rentals are longer than 30 days and the host is always on the premises during guests’ stays. The law was set to go into effect in May, but a delay pushed the start date to July. Then, Airbnb sued the city, pushing enforcement back still further.

The Office of Special Enforcement approved just 141 registrations as of July 25, according to case documents. Another 236 applications were returned to applicants, and 29 were denied. There are over 40,000 Airbnb listings in New York City, though many have not been booked recently or often, according to Inside Airbnb, which tracks the short-term rental industry. Property owners have registered nearly 9,000 buildings on a list of prohibited buildings where short-terms rentals are never allowed, according to a report from Gothamist. Many building owners have found that the comings and goings of visitors are disruptive to other residents of their buildings. Courts had made it difficult for owners to litigate issues that arose, making wholesale prohibition easier.

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, a nascent resurgence in its retail corridors could be threatened by fewer visitors to the area, said Dale Charles, executive director of the Bedford Stuyvesant Gateway Business Improvement District. Visitors come for events and to see family, as well as simply to stay in the neighborhood, she said.

“They’re still hurting from Covid,” Charles said. “So not having Airbnb would hurt the business more.” She added that a potential loss from tourism is not on the minds of most small business owners in her district, since they are focused on more acute problems, like commercial rent hikes and inflation.


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