New York ain’t cheap. It costs to live in the city that doesn’t sleep … A LOT. Let me put it to you this way, the rent for my matchbox, under 2,000 sq. ft. apartment is more than my aunt’s mortgage payment on her two-story home in Arizona. As a result, New Yorkers learn very quickly that hustling is the name of the rent game. Everyone needs to have one to survive out here.
One such hustle is subletting your apartment to strangers (often foreign) for short periods of time. AirBnB.com is one of the websites that facilitates these arrangements.
AirBnB started five years ago in San Francisco, after two roommates couldn’t afford their rent and inflated air beds for paying guests. It now operates globally in 35,000 communities, currently offering 500,000 listings, and is the world’s biggest short-term rental company. The site takes 6 to 12 percent of every rental.
In New York, the company says about 15,000 people are offering short-term rentals ranging from $35 for a private space in a Brooklyn studio to a $60 walk-up in Times Square to $120 for a garden apartment in Red Hook to $921 for an antiques-furnished loft in Tribeca
It’s truly a win-win situation. Hotel prices out here are astronomical, so the tourists get to save some money, and the New Yorkers get to make some money. No harm, no foul, right?
Well the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman disagrees and is trying to force AirBnB.com to release information on its clients, as part of an investigation to see if they are breaking a state law that prohibits tenants from subletting apartments for less than 30 days, if they are not present. Beyond the potential illegality, officials say that the practice undercuts the hotel industry, avoids taxes, and threatens apartment building safety.
Somehow, I get this strange feeling that the money issue is more important than some archaic legal statute and officials’ concern for safety. Although no one can provide an estimate for how much hotels are losing to these subletting practices, opponents seem convinced that it’s a lot of money, and the state is pissed that they’re missing out on all the potential tax revenue.
With everything going on in the world, must we really harp on people who have come up with an innovative way to make money? Have you nothing better to do? I mean, it’s not as if these people aren’t putting their own selves at risk since they’re letting people into their homes and often living with strangers for periods at a time. I’d think they go through the necessary precautions to avoid sleeping next to a psychopath.
One of my friends actually does this and it is one of her largest means of income, given that she is a struggling actress. She says the people are always very respectful and polite and very grateful for her services.
So unless the city plans to drastically lower rents, they should really take a chill pill. Go fix the MTA or something!