Fighting Illegal Sublets Helping Boards in the Homeshare Era

The City and State of New York have been in a very public fight with homeshare giant Airbnb for what feels like the last decade (the current short-term leasing laws were passed in 2006, so it’s been at least that long), but they haven’t been the only ones coping with the impact of Airbnb’s business model. Co-op and condo boards and property managers have been fighting short-term rentals for about as long as the City itself has - perhaps even longer. It’s not only a matter of driving down property prices, in the case of co-ops and condos, or dealing with fines from the city and state, but it can be a comfort issue for residents themselves.

Homeshare Headaches

What a lot of people start to realize is that Airbnb brings in a lot of noise, and it’s a liability since you’re giving strangers a key,” says Ari Teman, founder of SubletSpy, a company that combs homeshare sites on behalf of client communities that want to find – and put a stop to – illegal sublets and short-term rentals. While most buildings--co-ops and condos especially--don’t want a parade of people from all over using their building as an illegal hotel, they don’t have the time to actively look for and take care of any postings made on websites such as Airbnb or Flipkey.

They also treat [buildings] like a hotel,” says Teman. “They leave towels all over the floor, they don’t know how to shut off the bathtub properly and you get flooding, then there are bedbugs. If you take a map of bedbug [infestations] in NY and take a map of Airbnb listings, they often line up, since people are coming with suitcases from all over.”

No one wants a hotel next door to them and that’s exactly what’s coming in,” Teman continues. “So condos and co-ops get a lot of complaint. Sponsor units are also an issue; if you catch [an illegal subletter] in one of those units, you can evict them and get a shareholder who’s paying their dues and taking care of the building. So that’s a huge incentive.”

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