ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A report on New York City Airbnb rentals has found cases of air mattresses in kitchens, bunk beds in dining areas and listings for up to 32 people.
Democratic Sens. Jeffrey Klein and Diane Savino say the report the Independent Democratic Conference issued Monday shows the need for tighter rules governing the popular online home rental service. The IDC study looked at 110 rentals offering space for 13 or more people, which violates state and city housing codes.
Klein says some rentals were unsafe and illegal.
“Piling up people in the living room via bunk beds,” Klein said. “Needless to say, putting people potentially at risk.”
Klein said he was first made aware of the problem back in 2015, when a home in the Bronx dubbed “Fenton Lounge” was exposed as a house rental for wild parties. It was equipped with a DJ, stripper’s pole, and charging people for entry.
Airbnb pulled the ad, but it resurfaced as “Fenton Lounge 2.0,” advertising accommodations for up to 16 people.
New York City issued multiple violations to the owner for illegal transient use and fire code violations, among other things.
Now Klein and others want Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation banning the advertisement of illegal units on Airbnb and similar sites.
“If someone is living in an apartment meant for a couple of people, and 14 people are piled in there, you can’t expect those individuals to know where the fire escape, where the exit is,” Klein said. “That’s why we regulate hotels. There’s all types of fire codes.”
“What we see are bedbug infestations, lice,” said Norm LaFond of the Park West Policy Forum.
“If they’re not going to do right by New Yorkers, we’re going to make sure that they do so,” Savino said.
San Francisco-based Airbnb Inc. says the “overwhelming majority” of hosts in New York City rent their homes to help defray the rising cost of city living. The company says it will work with lawmakers to find “sensible” regulations.
“We are eager to work with lawmakers, including the IDC, to find a sensible solution that will allow all New Yorkers to responsibly share their primary home and crack down on commercial operators,” Airbnb said.