Illegal Hotels Survive Crackdown
Two years ago, tenant advocates and hoteliers came together to praise a New York State law clarifying the ban on most rentals lasting less than 30 days. The measure closed loopholes that had prevented hotels operating out of residential buildings from being shut down, and was touted as a long-needed boost to residential protections. But over a year after the law went into effect May 2011, tenants and housing lawyers have yet to see big changes.
In 2011, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which responds to complaints about illegal hotels, issued 1,897 citations –- three times the number issued in 2010. Ninety-six percent of them were issued after the law went into effect May 2011. Building owners who rent out residential buildings for less than 30 days can be fined $800 to $2400 per citation, and one incident of illegal hotel use can result in multiple citations, adding up many thousands of dollars.
While citations are up, the law doesn’t appear to be deterring would-be hoteliers.
“We still get the same complaints about [the] same illegal hotels,” says Susan Stetzer, district manager of Manhattan Community Board 3, which encompasses the East Village, Lower East Side and Chinatown. “The new law seems to have no effect.”