Short-term Airbnb rentals are on the rise again in Stuyvesant Town despite ongoing talks between Airbnb and Stuy Town. CWCapital Asset Management, the ST/PCV Tenants Association and Council Member Dan Garodnick, all of whom want to put an end to such listings, have taken several meetings with Airbnb to prevent further listings. Despite their efforts, in the past week 11 new listings have showed up on Airbnb, including one ad by a tenant previously caught listing several apartments. Adding insult to injury is the new Stuyvesant Town landing page added by Airbnb.
There was a sharp drop in listings over the summer after an article published in The New York Times highlighted Stuy Town tenants investigating Airbnb short-term rentals and reporting hosts’ names and addresses to both the ST/PCV Tenants Association and the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. Tenants have taken to Airbnb once again to list spare rooms and entire apartments on the short-term rental website despite the fact that placing such a listing is a violation of a signed lease and they could face eviction. In New York State it is illegal to sublet or rent a property for less than 30 days. The tenants listing their apartments on Airbnb range from young professionals to parents with small children in the home to baby boomers.
Recently, Andrew MacArthur, Managing Director of CWCapital Asset Management, John Marsh, President of the ST/PCV Tenants Association and Council Member Dan Garodnick have taken several meetings with Airbnb to put an end to such listings.
“Airbnb has managed to do something rather unique which is align normal adversaries – a tenants association and a landlord – toward a common goal,” says John Marsh, President of the ST/PCV Tenants Association. “The TA, along with CWCapital Asset Management and Dan Garodnick continue to work with Airbnb towards a solution.”
Several solutions to the problem have been discussed with Airbnb but it appears the company is dragging their feet, possibly because a resolution at Stuy Town could set a precedent which would destroy Airbnb’s business model. One rumored solution would have large properties like Stuy Town and Peter Cooper Village provide Airbnb with a blacklist of the property’s addresses preventing tenants from listing their apartments. Of course tenants could circumvent this protective measure by using an entirely fake address as one Stuy Town tenant recently did. A new listing by “Sierra” says her ‘Private Room’ for rent is located on Cherry Street in San Francisco, [screenshot] contradicting its Alphabet City neighborhood listing and the review,“ I had a really great time staying in Stuyvesant Town.”
In a statement to the Observer last year, a representative from Airbnb shrugs off responsibly for illegal short-term listings, putting the responsibility solely on the hosts. This caviler approach of companies creating a technology and attempting to wash their hands of responsibility from what their customers do with it hasn’t boded well for some tech giants.
In 2008, a French court ordered Ebay to pay LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA $64 million in damages over counterfeit bags sold through the auction web site. In a more extreme example, Craigslist shut down their adult services section in 2010 after a group of state attorney generals said they were not doing enough to prevent prostitution and child trafficking.
A report this year by the ST/PCV Tenants Association shows an increase in bed bug infestations on the property they believe are directly tied with the rise of Airbnb listings. In addition to bed bugs, tenants are concerned with the security issues that come with granting strangers full access to their buildings. One tenant who asked to remain anonymous said, “I used to know my neighbors. Now there are people with suitcases coming and going all of the time. UPS packages have disappeared from our doors. This has to stop.”
8 of the 11 apartments recently listed are market-rate tenants. The names and addresses of tenants caught listing their apartments on Airbnb are provided to both CWCapital Asset Management, whose subsidiary, Compass Rock Real Estate, manages Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village as well as the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.