NYC board reverses decision to fine tenant who rented apartment on Airbnb

Airbnb chalked up an important victory last week after it helped a user successfully appeal against a fine for renting his apartment out on the platform.

New York resident Nigel Warren was fined $2400 by city officials in May, after a judge ruled that he violated a city law that makes it illegal for property owners to temporarily rent out their homes. The law is designed to prevent people from running illegal hotels. Warren had used Airbnb to rent out a room in a condo he was leasing, to out-of-town tourists. 

On Thursday, the Environmental Control Board of New York reversed the decision after it was established that since Warren’s roommate, considered a “permanent resident” was present during the period of the tourists’ stay, the law had not been violated. City officials will be ordered to give Warren his money back.

Airbnb, who had provided legal support to both Warren and his landlord, celebrated the decision with a blog post authored by its head of global public policy David Hantman. 

“Much of the New York law is confusing, with some provisions applying to
certain buildings and not to others. But this shared space provision
was crystal clear,” writes Hantman. “We intervened in this case because the initial
decision on Nigel’s case was so clearly wrong, and we are pleased to see
that the Board agreed. “

It’s important to note that this doesn’t pave the way for Airbnb in New York, as it has received several objections from landlords, local government agencies and the hotel industry it is trying so hard to disrupt. The appeal was won on a technicality, they were able to prove that a permanent resident was present during the entire time, which isn’t usually the case with most Airbnb rentals.  Hantman acknowledged the work wasn’t done and more legislation would be required before Airbnb can operate freely.

“We know there is more work to do. This episode highlights how
complicated the New York law is, and it took far too long for Nigel to
be vindicated” writes Hantman. “That is why we are continuing our work to clarify the law
and ensure New Yorkers can share their homes and their city with
travelers from around the world. “


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