JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens (PIX11) — Strict new laws that the City of New York plans to implement soon will remove thousands of listings from Airbnb and other short-term rental websites making it harder for hosts to rent out.
The city’s argument is that it will improve the housing crisis, but hosts say it will remove a lifeline to support their families.
Carolina Medina has lived in the same home in Jackson Heights, Queens her entire life and her family turned to Airbnb once her immigrant father from Colombia had to give back his taxi medallion after the rise of Uber forced an early retirement.
“He was a yellow cab driver for 30 years,” Medina said. “That’s literally the only thing that he knew how to do, so when he lost it, we were just kind of like, ‘Oh my god. What do we do now?'”
They invested thousands of dollars into the two-family home making it suitable for large families to visit New York City who can’t afford multiple rooms at hotels.
With Local Law 18 now looming, hosts will not be able to rent out their properties for shorter than 30 days. Medina says no one has stayed at her property for more than two weeks.
“The city is making it nearly impossible for us to use our home appropriately,” Medina added. “We literally use our home for survival. What we make is what we use to maintain our home and maintain a livelihood and for my dad to be retired in peace.”
Altagracia Pierre-Outerbridge, a tenant-landlord attorney at Outerbridge Law P.C., says the city believes Airbnb and other short-term rental websites are decreasing the housing stock.
“Instead of renting to regular New Yorkers who live here, go to work here, take their children to school here, they’re renting to out-of-towners, leading the prices to go up on the rest of the housing,” Pierre-Outerbridge said.
Medina’s listing is now set to a 30-day minimum stay, but it has sat empty causing a $7,000 loss in profit so far. She says being an Airbnb host is more than a monetary transaction for her family.
“They’re going to our local bodegas, and they’re going to our supermarkets, and I get to know the people that are coming here, and it’s kind of just like a cultural exchange more than anything,” Medina said.
The new laws would require listings to be registered with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. It would also require proof that the property is the host’s primary residence.
These new rules were set to go into effect on Monday, Jan. 9, but the registration program will now begin 30 days after the final rules are published which will happen after a public hearing this week.
Medina says if the city continues to propose and implement strict laws on Airbnb hosts, she and her family will strongly consider moving to another state.