Landlords are being fined for reporting violations of law against companies like AirBnb. In October 2016 a law was passed in New York making it illegal to to list units for rent for fewer than 30 days if the owner isn’t present. The bill which sat on Governor Cuomo’s desk for many months while AirBnB tried to lobby for the Governor not to sign it was eventually passed into law as concerns regarding affordable housing and foregone tax revenue were of primary consideration.
Cuomo spokesperson Richard Azzopardi said at the time “This is an issue that was given careful, deliberate consideration, but ultimately these activities are already expressly prohibited by law. They also compromise efforts to maintain and promote affordable housing by allowing those units to be used as unregulated hotels, and deny communities significant revenue from uncollected taxes, the cost of which is ultimately borne by local taxpayers,”
The law would seem to a win for landlords who were the biggest proponents of the law being passed last year. Although this may be the case, landlords are being fined for reporting the said violations. According to a Crain’s New York report, a landlord reported that one of their units was being used illegally to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement eventually issued an order to vacate but the landlord was still fined $3,400.00. The court case was appealed multiple times but the Court eventually held that the landlord is responsible for illegal usage of the units although it is the tenant who created the condition.
As a result of the decision, many believe the decision will have a chilling effect on landlords who would like to report the illegal condition. “We urge all New Yorkers to report violations of the law, including those that create dangerous living conditions,” a spokesman for DOB told Crain’s. “But reporting violations by others does not mean landlords are shielded from their own legal duty of providing safe homes to paying tenants.”
“If you want us to cooperate with you, you have to stop fining us,” Jeffrey Goldman, a partner at Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman who represented the landlord in the above reference case stated. NYC Property management companies and owners must remain focused on curtailing and preventing the use of their units rented for fewer than 30 days. The failure to do so will result in tremendous fines that the city will penalize you on.