Appellate Court Upholds AirBNB Law [UPDATE: Court of Appeals Denies Leave to Appeal]

Court found that DOB letter of objection exception to the Multiple Dwelling law was no longer valid. On March 17, 2016, New York Appellate Court reversed a Lower Court’s Decision and thus denying Grand Imperial LLC’s Petition for a Letter of No Objection to rent its property for shorter than the legally required time period. Grand Imperial LLC owns a Single-Room Occupancy building, located at 307 West 79th Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, with predominantly affordable housing units.

Prior to 2010, New York landlords could rent out these rooms for as little as seven days. In 2010, however, the New York State legislature amended the Multiple Dwelling Law to enact a 30-day minimum required stay.

This 30-day requirement was passed as part of New York Senate Bill S6873B in response to landlords pushing lower-income renters out of their buildings in order to rent to tourists for shorter, more lucrative periods. This was the same time that AirBNB began to launch its service of connecting tourists with rooms to rent. The bill was co-sponsored by State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan. “The proliferation of illegal hotel operations has removed thousands of apartments from an already tight housing market, disrupted the lives of the permanent residents who live in the buildings, and decreased the City’s tax base”, stated Senator Krueger.

This amendment took effect May 1, 2011, and applied to, “all buildings in existence on such effective date”, including Grand Imperial. Grand Imperial was denied a Letter of No Objection from the NYC Department of Buildings which would allow it to continue to rent out rooms for less than the new 30-day requirement.

Grand Imperial appealed, claiming it should still be allowed to rent short-term under an exception to the Multiple Dwelling Law. However, the court found General Imperial’s exemption was extinguished when the new law went into effect in 2011, and dismissed the case.

The decision comes just a few weeks after Assembly member Linda Rosenthal sponsored a bill backed by numerous housing agencies that would prohibit sites such as AirBNB from advertising such Multiple Occupancy dwellings for short-term usage.

Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, whose district includes the Grand Imperial building called the decision a “victory for affordable housing and for New Yorkers who need an affordable place to live, and we look forward to seeing these units returned to the affordable housing stock.”

UPDATE: On November 17, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals denied Grand Imperial’s request for leave to appeal the Appellate Court decision.

Matter of Grand Imperial, LLC v New York City Bd. of Stds. & Appeals, 2016 NY Slip Op 01916 Decided on March 17, 2016 Appellate Division, First Department.

By: Stephen Caracappa (Stephen is a student at New York Law School, Class of 2018).


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