Summer vacation season is coming and for millions of Americans, and foreign visitors.. the challenge is finding an affordable short time rental. Once, hotels.. or relatives.. were the only choice. Now in many cities there's a battle between two major industries.. over a place to stay. Our Lisa Fletcher went to New York City for the story.
In the city that never sleeps, finding a place to do just that without breaking the bank - and the law - is a daunting task - for tourists and for tenants.
Jordan Reeves: I do worry about the outcome - and I do worry about breaking the law, but there comes a time when you have to say, I have to do what is best for me, what makes most sense for me financially.
Many New Yorkers with extra space like Jordan Reeves, walk a fine legal line when they use home-sharing sites to make ends meet. It's been nearly a decade since lawmakers banned rentals of fewer than 30 days unless the owner is present in what's called the quote 'multiple dwelling law.' A law some airbnb hosts say may sometimes be overlooked.
Jordan: All of a sudden we went from living paycheck to paycheck to being able to go out to dinner once a week or go to see a movie, or maybe go to see a broadway show which is why you live in NYC anyway.
Despite the legal limits, airbnb has seen its value skyrocket to 31 billion dollars - that's more than the hotel chains Hilton and Hyatt combined. The company is facing regulations on a city by city basis. Just this week, Los Angeles moved to regulate airbnb, by barring people from renting houses and apartments that are not their primary residence - a move airbnb says, is a positive step in the right direction. But the company was also the focus of a Federal Trade Commission Investigation. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Dianne Feinstein, and Brian Schatz said they are quote, "concerned that short-term rentals may be exacerbating housing shortages and driving up the cost of housing in our communities." The report when on to cite that quote, "72 percent of unique units rented in New York City appeared to violate local and state law." It's why lawmakers in the big apple, with its record 60 million tourists last year - say their city needs to become the urban epitome for home sharing.
Joseph Lentol: I'm in the middle. You know I don't I don't hate the hotel industry. I don't love airbnb but I think it's something whose time has come.
State Congressman Joseph Lentol represents the popular borough of Brooklyn. He wants to get rid of that multiple dwelling law - instead permitting hosts to rent one unit at a time - their home - and require them to register in a state database.
Lentol: There are a lot of things to do in the outer boroughs that a lot of people want to see and when they come to New York and they're doing it now, they're coming, but they don't know if it's legal or illegal. And a lot of the home-sharing people are scared because they don't understand what the law is. What they can do and what they can't do. We want to clarify what it is.
Left up to the hotel industry, it would be as limiting as possible. It backs a group called 'Sharebetter' that uses hidden cameras to infiltrate host homes. The New York Times obtained internal documents from the American Hotel and Lodging Association, that lay out a wide reaching campaign to defeat Airbnb at statehouses across the country, and in the media. Airbnb is fighting back hard. In New York, it spent 404,000 in the first half of 2017 just on lobbying the state's lawmakers. New York State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol says a real bill needs to pass.
Lisa: And if it doesn't pass, what does that say?
Lentol: It says that the lobbyist won the lobbying against it. And that would be sad because that happens in Washington all the time doesn't it?
As of right now, the state of New York has not voted on that legislation. New York City's comptroller is out with a *new* report -- saying airbnb rentals are driving up rents -- alleging airbnb cost renters 616 million dollars in additional rent in 2016 alone.
Statement from Nick Papas, spokesperson for AirBnB:
There have been more than 300 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are extremely rare. Even so, we’re constantly working to improve our platform, our policies, and our protections, because even one incident is one too many.
Home sharing makes it possible for every day people to turn their biggest expense - their housing costs - into an economic opportunity and families around the world use Airbnb to earn extra money, pay the bills and stay in the communities they love.
Statement from Lisa Linden, spokesperson for the Hotel Association of New York City:
“Airbnb facilitates the proliferation of unlicensed, unregulated and potentially unsafe facilities that many hosts treat as a lucrative part-time business. These illegal facilities are detracting from the available housing stock needed by everyday New Yorkers while resulting in lost revenues for the city and potential job losses for NYC’s tourism industry.”