Can New York City Even Enforce Its Airbnb Rules?

Photo: Shutterstock / BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock / BigTunaOnline

Airbnb hosts in New York City are supposed to register their listings in keeping with a new law meant to help enforce state regulations on short-term rentals, but the city’s wider staffing shortage is delaying implementation. As Gothamist reported on Monday, the agency tasked with these registrations has a vacancy rate of more than 50 percent, making the rule more like a suggestion for the time being.

Under state law, short-term-rental hosts aren’t supposed to list rooms in their apartments or homes for less than 30 days unless they also live in the space and will be present. The move to require registrations was intended to eliminate illegal listings and help boost housing supply. But while registration with the Office of Special Enforcement ​​opened in March, the original May deadline was postponed to July, then postponed again to September. “The recent delays by the Office of Special Enforcement have brought to light the critical importance of funding agencies,” Councilmember Eric Dinowitz told Gothamist. (A spokesperson from OSE declined to comment to Gothamist on how understaffing may be affecting Airbnb registrations.)

Airbnb, which is suing over the registration requirement, seems delighted at the holdup. As the company wrote in a recent email to hosts, “We are happy to report that the summer bookings of guests and hosts will not be affected.”

Can New York City Even Enforce Its Airbnb Rules?