Public comments for: Prohibited Advertising of Certain Dwelling Units

Comments

Comment:
Testimony of Matthew Abuelo Steering Committee, West Side Neighborhood Alliance (WSNA) Hearing, Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, “Banning advertising of illegal hotels” Monday, December 19th 11:00 am Spector Hall, 22 Reade St., Ground Floor, New York, NY 10007 My name is Matthew Abuelo and I would like to start this testimony off by thanking Linda Rosenthal for this new law which bans the advertising of illegal hotels here in the state of New York. As a former tenant of a residential building which was run as a commercial youth hostel, I’ve seen both the devastating effect these operations have on residents’ quality of life and the subpar and even dangerous experience in hospitality created for the visitors. The tourists, after all, were on vacation and unwittingly walking into a war zone and in some ways a crime scene. Tenants living next to transient units suffered with constant noise and disruption, loud parties all night and aggressive retaliation when they complained. In one case, a former neighbor of mine was kept awake all night opening the door to her section to let tourists in because they did not have a key. Units meant to be occupied by one or two people could be crowded with over ten guests in flagrant defiance of fire safety codes. The building staff were attentive to the needs of the hotel clients and abusive towards the tenants. After joining a coalition of tenants who were dealing with illegal hotels in their buildings, I learned that this was a standard business practice in that it drove long-term tenants from their homes and was a source of quick cash for the management. In 2007 my wife and I helped to found West Side Neighborhood Alliance, a group which aided in the fight to amend the 1929 multiple dwelling law to ban transient use in residential buildings. In 2010 the law was amended, we won our battle and thought we won the war. Around the same time, Airbnb hit New York like the bubonic plaque. Unlike the early days of our fight against the illegal hotels when it was clearly landlords versus tenants, the poster child of the so-called sharing economy has helped create a climate which pits neighbors against each other. The same nuisance conditions exist regardless if it is the landlord or the tenant running transient operations out of their units. Security in the building in compromised since no one knows who is coming or going and the overall quality of life in buildings is greatly diminished. Worst of all, at a time when a shortage of affordable housing is at a crisis, apartments where people could be living are effectively removed from the market of available rentals. It is for these reasons that I urge you to enforce our new law which prevents the advertising of illegal hotel operators in our state.
Supporting Document:
Agency: MAYOR
Comment:
I would like to thank Linda Rosenthal in the State Assembly for passing legislation to ban advertising of illegal hotels and the Office of Special Enforcement for their excellent work in protecting housing in New York City. Thank you for holding this hearing. My name is Vivian Riffelmacher. I’ve lived on the west side for 20 years. 12 of those years have been spent battling illegal transient rentals in residential buildings – since 2007 as a member of the Steering Committee for West Side Neighborhood Alliance. This odyssey began in 2004 when the residential building where I lived on west 86th Street was illegally converted into a commercial youth hostel by a career slumlord with a history of tenant harassment dating back to the 1970’s. The problem was widespread on the upper west side as I soon discovered. The constant flow of tourist traffic is a uniquely demoralizing experience for full-time tenants in these buildings. With strangers roaming the halls at all hours, noisy parties, criminal activity and bedbug infestations it became obvious that the practice was being used as a weapon to drive full-time tenants out of buildings. Rent stabilized tenants who complain are subjected to harassment. Market-rate tenants who complain are simply not offered a lease renewal. Now in 2016, in spite of years of attempts to enforce the law, many building owners continue to rent residential properties on a transient basis. Worse yet, Airbnb and other do-it-yourself web hotel platforms have expanded the scope of the problem by encouraging tenants to get in on the action, encouraging tenants to monetize their homes without warning them about the risks. The biggest risk, of course, being the possibility of eviction for lease violation. Sharing costs with a live-in roommate is not the same thing as profiteering by renting to transients at inflated rates. Airbnb also will not support their hosts in housing court or offer legal assistance. We hope that making it illegal to advertise residential properties for hotel use will help discourage repeat offenders. Quite simply if accommodations are not legal it only follows that advertising them should be illegal as well. I strongly support OSE’s work in protecting the integrity of housing for the people who live and work in New York.
Agency: MAYOR
Comment:
I have a few questions for the MOSE: How exactly will this rule be enforced? Is the mayor's office planning to work with platforms like Airbnb, HomeAway, etc. to enforce the new rule? How much of the office's $10 million budget will go toward enforcement of the Multiple Dwelling Law?
Agency: MAYOR