Huge victory in New York for Nigel Warren and our host community

In June, I wrote about Nigel Warren, a New York host who was fined by an administrative law judge for renting out a room his apartment for a few days. I said at the time that the decision was clearly wrong on the law and bad for New York, and we were proud to support Nigel and his landlord as they appealed this ruling over the past few months. Yesterday, the New York City Environmental Control Board reversed Nigel’s fines, agreeing with our arguments and delivering a major victory for Nigel, New York and the Airbnb community.

In the appeal, we and Nigel argued—and the appeal board now agrees—that under New York law as long as a permanent occupant is present during a stay, the stay does not violate New York’s short term rental laws. Much of the New York law is confusing, with some provisions applying to certain buildings and not to others. But this shared space provision was crystal clear. We intervened in this case because the initial decision on Nigel’s case was so clearly wrong, and we are pleased to see that the Board agreed.

We know there is more work to do. This episode highlights how complicated the New York law is, and it took far too long for Nigel to be vindicated. That is why we are continuing our work to clarify the law and ensure New Yorkers can share their homes and their city with travelers from around the world.

But in the meantime, this decision was a victory for the sharing economy and the countless New Yorkers who make the Airbnb community vibrant and strong. As I said last summer, the sharing economy is here to stay, and so are we.

Comments

  1. Yeahhh Nigel, so glad to hear!!
    But what does that mean for the rest of the New york hosts who rent their space when they have to be away for work? Are we going to be taken to court and fined? Should we all pull our listings till we know?
    I travel a few times a year but am gone for long periods when I do and airbnb has been amazingly helpful. Rent is crazy high in NYC and being able to offset that on occasion is…so incredibly helpful financially.

    • BIGGER QUESTION: how did they find out about this infractioin. is the building department doing undercover sting operatoins again???? should we be aware of who is on the other end of the web emails, or phone??

  2. matthew walker says:

    ROCK N ROLL CONGRTATS

  3. I don’t get it…the host has to be present? When is that ever going to be the case?

    • jolene garcia says:

      Everytime you rent a room, but the whole apartment

    • I am always present when I host. Plenty of NYC hosts are home with their guests. They are renting extra space, not the rooms in which they solely reside. Still if you are renting or in a co-op, you could still have problems, despite Nigel’s victory.

    • Julie,
      It means that the host must also live in the building. I own the building and I live in the floors above the listing apartment. That’s how I am present.

  4. Thank you airbnb for your strong and intense support for Nigel, an airbnb host. It is an absolute relief of confidence to know we as airbnb host are here to support one another and the great airbnb is here to stay, YHEA! Cheers to airbnb and Nigel!

  5. Doest this also hold true for co-ops?

  6. Well Done!

    Its ridiculous that these wealthy hotel chains should be the only ones able to make a dollar from visitors. If the state is seriously worried about lost tax revenue then it should implement new laws to allow AirBnBers to pay taxes in this emerging industry.
    Of note is the fact that most people i know who rent through AirBnB are not in the exhorbitant “hotel affording” income bracket or business traveller bracket . Yet these travellers still can come through AirBnB and spend more money in more local business.
    If NYC really wants to attract maximun tourists dollars it needs to open as many doors as possible and distribute the wealth a little wider.
    Hopefully justice & fairness will prevail and AirBnB will be able to “David & Goliath” the global corporations such as Hilton, Sheraton and their expensive lawyers.

  7. So happy to hear that!!!! – Man against machine.

    How is the law in e grads to rentals? Are we allowed to share our space?

  8. So happy to hear that!!!! – Man against machine.

    How is the law in regards to the rentals? Are we allowed to share our space?

  9. Thanks for the synergy. I love you, guys.. Air BnB Rocks.

  10. Wooo. I’m very happy. Congratulations.

  11. I am so glad to hear this news.
    NYC law can be very hard to understand.
    Now that clearly we know that we can temporary rent our spare room, we need to start worrying about subletting our apartment while we are out of the country.
    NYC rents are very high, we live here and we get used to empty the bank account when is the 1st of the month.
    Dont you think would be a relief be able to have somebody covering your rent while you are away?
    Dont it should be legal? I am sharing my private property with strangers, people that agree in paying the cleaning fee and to respect your privacy just to feel as new yorker instead than a tourist once in vacation.
    Congratz Nigel Warren !!

  12. Air bnb hosts in New York still need to be mindful of the rules for their residence. I live in a co-op, hosted guests on only one occasion and was threatened with eviction partly because of how much I charged. I am still in legal negotiations, which have been costly. Hosts need to be knowledgeable of all rules before venturing into this and Airbnb won’t be aware of them all.

  13. In San Luis Obispo, CA, SLO Hosts are working to make “owner occupied short-term rentals” legal. Several of our hosts have already received “cease and desist” notices and must pay to appeal their cases. Please help us by signing our petition. We have been successful in asking the City Council to put us on their agenda, but we need to show them how much support we have. The opposition is saying that we bring noise, traffic and crime into the neighborhoods. We must convince them otherwise! Please help!

    Here’s a link: http://chn.ge/16iGhPM

  14. I guess I am a bit confused… Nigel had admitted to NOT being present during the stay, so how did this come to this conclusion?
    Unfortunately, many leases are now written to reinforce the original ruling, so even if you are not breaking the law, you may be breaking the terms of the lease. I just had to stop using Airbnb because our management decided to enforce this after turning a blind eye for 3+ years. I’ll miss being a host, for sure!

    • I was wondering the same thing; Nigel said he wasn’t there while the guest was, but I think his roommate was, so was that the loophole?

  15. Simon MacArthur says:

    I can’t tell you how happy I was to see this. My wife and I both work like demons but still find it really hard to keep up with our bills. AirBnB was our savior for almost two years until our landlord told us to cease and desist.

    I hope we can restart now as we were doing so well and were gaining a reputation far and wide as great hosts. We were getting repeated bookings from Europe, Australia, India and elsewhere. It really helped keep us afloat.

    We’ll be watching to see how this goes.

    SM

  16. Airbnb is only truly happy because it does not diminish company revenue, Your ‘happiness’ is somehow hidden in a PR speak,but come on! It’s about the revenue…and other than the children who are your employees, who bite at the ;employee rah rah team meetings;, the leadership is satisfied at revenue from the largest city in the US.

    • Well duh! Gee sounds like both Airbnb & myself are horrible greedy capitalists. Both in it for the revenue.. Imagine that!
      Sounds like someones a bit salty.
      What you get fired or something, bro?

  17. Way to go..airbnb.
    Congratulations for all of us.

  18. This is a victory for all of us, it is indeed a victory for democracy, because is a great statement against big corporation that speculate on people life. Airbnb is not only a smart way of traveling, but It is also a Great prove that people believe in democracy and community, and sharing is an amazing way of leaning between each other, also I strongly believe that preserving market variety it means defending democracy. Thank you airBnB for defending community rights!

  19. I use air Bnb when I travel and I love it. That said, I live in Brooklyn and have seen abuse. Those who don’t have a landlord who agrees to allowing this still rent out their places rationalizing it’s ok, other residents in buildings where air Bnb rentals are see a revolving door of strangers who create an unpleasant environment because they are so transient. I think air Bnb should at least monitor these conditions on behalf of its clients. To the previous poster’s point – air Bnb is a business. A lucrative business based on quality customer service. Air Bnb please respond to this comment.

  20. fred hueraz says:

    does this mean its only legal if someone is home.
    what if i want to rent out my condo and i dont live there
    if its a one bedroom.

  21. It is easier to rent out a short term place in most foreign countries. Just got back from Vietnam and Cartagena, Colombia where you can rent places easily. The USA should really examine whether we still want to practice capitalism or if we should just announce that we really want to practice being dictators. Looks like people want power and control, instead of freedom to do business and share what we can “lend” out for free. Charge even a penny and you get fined more than a street pimp ($1000/day fine in County of Las Vegas)

    On October 1, the City of Las Vegas is going to decide whether or not to cancel short term rentals, citing some bad party house experience. (it is already illegal in the county, which constitutes the greater area). Help get the word out to show up at City Hall at 9:00 am if you are in town.

  22. While I do not know the logistics of this particular case I do think it is a positive thing for the airbnb community, if in actuality it is truly a short term rental. I have rented places from airbnb and have had very positive experiences.

    That said I was curious as to airbnb’s opinion of someone who actually lives elsewhere and rents out their very desirable Manhattan apartment through airbnb for short term rentals on a fairly regular basis to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. They are not renting a room but the entire apartment and they are not on site for the time that they are renting. We have a number of instances in our neighborhood concerning this issue as many of the apartments here are rent stabilized and some people are living elsewhere and renting out there apartment on a regular basis and often making a lot of money in the process.

    I think it is irresponsible for airbnb to not consider the impact it has on communities where the majority of the people are in rent stabilized situations and the destabilizing effect it can have on the community. What is to prevent landlords from doing the same thing that tenants are doing. I have friends who have been fighting with their landlords for renting to tourists for short term rentals. I think that there are many complicated issues involving insurance, taxes, and security and it is naive of the airbnb community to not acknowledge the potential downside of such arrangements. It is one thing to open a bnb or to rent a room in your apartment, but renting short term while you live elsewhere is in essence running a small business and it needs some kind of regulation and accountability .

    As a member of the community for over 38years it would be nice to know that if someone was making a profit on property that they do not own that they were at least giving back to the community in terms of a hospitality tax that would go into services for the community, the same way that any business in NYC would pay for a service that they were providing.

    Don’t get me wrong the idea of aribnb and the service it provides is great but I believe that there are many issues that need to be resolved and worked out beforeI feel comfortable supporting it wholeheartedly.

    I would be curious to hear from you on this mater.

    Thank you,
    Andrew

    On Sep 28, 2013, at 8:00 AM, Airbnb wrote:

    While I do not know the logistics of this particular case I do think it is a positive thing for the airbnb community, if in actuality it is truly a short term rental. I have rented places from airbnb and have had very positive experiences.

    That said I was curious as to airbnb’s opinion of someone who actually lives elsewhere and rents out their very desirable Manhattan apartment through airbnb for short term rentals on a fairly regular basis to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. They are not renting a room but the entire apartment and they are not on site for the time that they are renting. We have a number of instances in our neighborhood concerning this issue as many of the apartments here are rent stabilized and some people are living elsewhere and renting out there apartment on a regular basis and often making a lot of money in the process.

    I think it is irresponsible for airbnb to not consider the impact it has on communities where the majority of the people are in rent stabilized situations and the destabilizing effect it can have on the community. What is to prevent landlords from doing the same thing that tenants are doing. I have friends who have been fighting with their landlords for renting to tourists for short term rentals. I think that there are many complicated issues involving insurance, taxes, and security and it is naive of the airbnb community to not acknowledge the potential downside of such arrangements. It is one thing to open a bnb or to rent a room in your apartment, but renting short term while you live elsewhere is in essence running a small business and it needs some kind of regulation and accountability .

    As a member of the community for over 38years it would be nice to know that if someone was making a profit on property that they do not own that they were at least giving back to the community in terms of a hospitality tax that would go into services for the community, the same way that any business in NYC would pay for a service that they were providing.

    Don’t get me wrong the idea of aribnb and the service it provides is great but I believe that there are many issues that need to be resolved and worked out beforeI feel comfortable supporting it wholeheartedly.

    I would be curious to hear what others have to say about these issues.

    Andrew

  23. it’s still SO CONFUSING.

  24. It’s hard to understand this decision. Maybe because it’s a condo and privately owned? because under any standard R.E. lease in NYC no subletting, of any length, is allowed without permission of the Landlord.

    I think anyone who rents out their place in NYC better be extremely discreet and very careful. This decision was a fluke.

  25. What was Warren’s room mate’s status? Was he an owner or Warren’s tenant?
    What is the minimum threshhold for “permanent resident” status?

  26. robert stecher says:

    you are great

  27. How did Nigel get caught in the first place? None of the articles I’ve been reading explain that. Did someone rat him out on the rental and call 311?

  28. Great news and always great to see Airbnb supporting hosts in the war against the major Hotels. May common sense continue to prevail… only now is Australia just starting to see councils / government authorities start to come up with some worrying ideas about ‘managing’ short term rentals off Airbnb. Interesting times.

  29. I own a co-op in New York by water, of course there’s a board. I want to joint airbnb and rent the extra room for travelers. any laws governing it?

  30. NOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    THIS JUST CAUSES:

    BED BUGS!!! SAFETY!!! SECURITY!!! STRANGERS ROAMING THE HALLS ALL NIGHT!!!

    What about the huge BED BUG Infestation that forced me to have to flee my apartment and building because of the short-term rentals the other rent stabilized tenants had on my floor – strange, odd looking strangers roaming through the building all day and night?? Every few days they would be different people.

    HOTELS HAVE CLEANING AND SECURITY available!!!!! Short-term rentals are ruining the city one small building at a time!!! YUCK!

    • Edwin Cosme says:

      you get what you paid for but on the other hand there is a reason why airbnb has “leave a host review”

  31. Hope you guys are working on the Swiss as they are about to kick off, the hotel associations are not happy puppies ……..war plan needed :-)

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