Rent Out a Spare Room in Your Apartment, Go to Prison
Liberals and Conservatives should be equally outraged by this. Thousands of New York City residents are making a bit of extra cash by renting out a spare room for tourists. And this practice is illegal. New York State has a law prohibiting sublets for less than thirty days. That’s the technicality, anyway. More importantly, these residents are jeopardizing the hotel industry’s profits.
Airbnb.com is a website that connects tourists with local residents who are offering a spare room in their homes. The site operates in 35,000 communities around the world and has 500,000 listings. Other similar websites include Flipkey.com and Housetrip.com.
The monthly rent in NYC averages about $3,000 — it’s often twice that much — so this little extra income is sometimes the only way for people to keep paying the rent in America’s most expensive city. Hotel rooms cost an average of $275 a night; a spare room in someone’s apartment can be as low as $35 a night. So this is a win win for travelers and local residents.
A Brooklyn resident said:
“I use Airbnb to supplement my income, and it's allowed me to go back to school. And besides, I've met so many wonderful people from France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, the Philippines.”
Travel author Pauline Frommer said:
“New York hotel prices are truly outrageous. The city is overwhelmed with visitors, and it's practically impossible to find an affordable hotel room, so you need some kind of outlet.”
Tough shit, says New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He’s demanding that Airbnb.com turn over a list of all New York City residents who have used the website to advertise a room.