Skift Take

New York City's short-term rental choices will be a shadow of their former selves starting September 5. That's good for neighbors tired or parties and nuisances, but bad for hosts and travelers looking for affordable visits.

New York City’s Office of Special Enforcement has approved only 257 short-term rental host registrations — out of 3,250 applications — ahead of a September 5 enforcement deadline.

It has reviewed only 808 applications, or around 25% of the host applications submitted to date, the enforcement office told Skift Monday.

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Update: The latest stats from OSE as of September 4 —

  • 290 registration applications granted
  • 90 denied
  • 516 bounced back to applications to insert or clarify items
  • 3,829 applications received

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Citing Inside Airbnb data, The Guardian reported in January that Airbnb had more than 40,000 listings in New York City. Many of them would not be eligible to register under the city’s newly enforceable requirements.

Beginning September 5, hosts face up to $5,000 fines or three times revenue for the third violation, and risk having their registrations, if they have one, revoked.

The city is apparently coping with a short-term rental registration application overload. More than half of the 3,250 applications came in after August 8, when a judge dismissed an Airbnb lawsuit challenging the city’s efforts to enforce its host registration rules. Airbnb has called the registration rules “a defacto ban.”

The city has denied 72 applications, and returned 479, requesting additional information to correct deficiencies in the application.

“Starting September 5, 2023, OSE’s initial phase of Local Law 18 enforcement will focus on collaborating with the booking platforms to ensure they are using the city’s verification system, that all verifications are occurring correctly, and that the platforms have stopped processing unverified transactions,” Christian Klossner, executive director of the Office of Special Enforcement, said in a statement. “OSE will continue to meet its enforcement responsibilities with a focus on responding to submitted complaints of illegal occupancy.”

There are 10,157 landlord applications to be placed on a list of buildings in the city where short-term rentals are banned. The list isn’t designed for landlords to apply to ban short-term rentals; instead it is a notification to the city that rental agreements with tenants already ban short-term rentals.

The city will use the Prohibited Buildings List to deny registration applications from hosts in those buildings.

New York City adopted Local Law 18, known as the Short-Term Rental Registration Law, on January 9, 2022. It requires that hosts be present during a stay for reservations of less than 30 days. The city also bans door locks on bedrooms in the shared space of the rental.

Rentals of 30 days and longer are not subject to Local Law 18.

The law, which will begin to be enforced September 5, also requires hosts to obtain a registration from the city, and that platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo and Booking.com verify that listings have approved host registrations, and that they file monthly reports with the city documenting transactions. The platforms are subject to $1,500 fines per booking for transactions that violate the New York City law.

Airbnb has said that New York City accounted for around $85 million of its in annual revenue. Airbnb is believed to be the largest short-term rental player in the five boroughs. Vrbo is less urban than Airbnb, and Booking.com is more Europe-focused than its two rivals.

Klossner of the city’s Office of Special Enforcement said in a court filing that the city estimates that around 55% of Airbnb’s revenue in New York City came from illegal listings.

The city charges hosts a $145 nonrefundable fee for registration applications.

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Tags: airbnb, booking.com, guests, hosts, nyc, online travel agencies, online travel newsletter, regulations, vacation rentals, vrbo

Photo credit: A file photo of an Airbnb experiences tour in New York City. Source: Airbnb Airbnb

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