Don’t Let NY City Stay in Bed with Hotel Conglomerates

Imagine having city inspectors knocking on your door with a warrant to enter your home and fine you $8,000. The crime? Renting out a room as a short-term rental without hotel-level fire alarm and sprinkler systems, elevator access, and a host of other absurdities.

This is not a theoretical possibility. These home invasions are happening across New York’s boroughs as part of the efforts by big hotels to stamp out competition.

Last week, the City went even further in its assault on short-term rentals by requiring hosts across the City to turn over personal bank account numbers. The City now risks the sensitive financial data of its residents and tourists by forcing them to hand over bank account numbers to government agencies. The City is forcing many to choose between protecting their financial information and paying their mortgage.

The City argues that your sharing of a room for one night should subject you to the same rules, regulations, and certifications requirements as the Marriott Marquis or the Waldorf Astoria.

In essence, the City may claim it’s treating the rental of a room equally, whether it is offered by a working family looking to better afford their condo payments or by a multi-national conglomerate. However, an equal playing field would be a first for the City at it already gives hundreds of millions in business incentives to big hotel companies — using taxes raised from homeowners themselves.

The City spends nearly $6.5 million per year on 48 staffers whose entire purpose is to identify, enter, and cite violations of how they think you should run your home. It is an affront to what being a homeowner means.

As property taxes continue to rise, city residents are increasingly feeling the squeeze from City Hall. In 2016, NY renters spent more than $500 million on security deposits only. For many in the Big Apple, short-term rentals represent the best way for citizens make ends meet. But now, City Hall’s homeowner assault hits New Yorkers via taxes and regulations.

City Hall is in bed with big hotels, who fuel anti-short-term rental rhetoric, with expensive PR campaigns such as “Share Better” attempting to scaremonger. In other cities, they have even used fabricated stories to spread fear.

A screenshot of Share Better’s website, showing sponsorship from The New York Hotel Trades Council and Hotel Association of New York City.

While hotels are enjoying record-setting prices and occupancy rates they still seek to stop us from sharing our homes. Big hotels chains know that the mere presence of short-term rentals keep hotel room rates in-check — especially when big events are in town.

By providing competition to hotel rooms, home sharing also helps keep prices for tourists competitive, attracting more to the city.

During major events, hotels can fleece travelers and leave them with less money to spend in local restaurants and businesses. In this way, hotels are preventing wealth from the tourist industry spreading to local businesses all around the city.

Big hotel companies use straw-man examples to vilify New Yorkers just trying to make ends meet. Big hotels demand short-term rental platforms turn-over business records — even though big hotels fought such a mandate to the Supreme Court.

Some in City Hall are calling for a moratorium on forced inspections. We hope their calls are heard.