REBNY thanks the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) for the opportunity to submit comments on proposed rules for Local Law 18 of 2022 regarding short-term rental enforcement. REBNY appreciates the opportunity to engage with the OSE and fully supports the proposed rules.
In recent years, residential owners and managers have faced significant difficulties ensuring that short-term rentals are operating legally and safely. Yet before the enactment of Local Law 18 of 2022 and despite other existing laws and regulations, there was no real mechanism to track short-term rental activity and hold those running illegal operations accountable. As a result, on numerous occasions, owners and managers who reported illegal activity to OSE were ultimately fined despite being whistleblowers to illegal activity that they did not facilitate. To address this issue, REBNY was pleased to support the passage of Intro 2309-2021, which became Local Law 18, to strengthen the mechanisms necessary to allow for proper enforcement of the laws and regulations concerning short-term rentals.
The rule proposed by OSE to bring Local Law 18 into effect appropriately balances the very real need for strong enforcement while also providing New Yorkers and visitors the opportunity to utilize safe short-term rentals. Specifically, REBNY supports the below components of the proposed rule and encourages OSE to refrain from making any further changes to the proposed rules that could potentially undermine or hamper enforcement. These aspects include:
The development of a prohibited buildings list. The law and proposed rule create a prohibited buildings list so that owners and managers will be able to affirmatively tell the City that they do not authorize short-term rentals in their building. Establishing a prohibited buildings list will ensure owners and tenants do not have to struggle against visitors who, in some instances, have negatively impacted the quality of life in buildings due to unwanted traffic, noise, and security concerns. The ability for owners and managers to register their buildings for this purpose also creates the ability for any perspective liability to be removed from the owner or manager if it is found that illegal activity is indeed occurring within a building or unit.
The creation of a registration system to monitor short-term rentals in buildings. This is a smart policy decision that makes it easy to know who the responsible ‘host’ is for any short-term rental and where illegal activity is occurring. To further strengthen this provision, REBNY encourages OSE to establish a process that ensures that a period is allotted first to allow for owners and managers to opt into the prohibited buildings list prior to allowing for perspective short-term rental hosts to complete a registration. In addition, REBNY encourages OSE to establish a process in which building representatives are also notified when a property or unit is registered for short-term rental activity.
Require short-term listing services to verify that listings on their site are legally registered. To protect residents, the listing service must ensure that they offer safe and legal products for consumers. REBNY believes that is pragmatic to establish a process in which no illegal listing is provided to the public via a listing service.
The establishment of a penalty schedule that will allow for those who truly violate the law to be held accountable. Currently, OSE is only able to take enforcement action against building owners even if the building owner was not responsible for the listing, including when the building owner had provisions in the lease prohibiting such listing from occurring. As a result, the owners have accrued the penalties for the actions of their tenants, which could be tens of thousands of dollars. The establishment of penalties via Local Law 18 and its proposed rules will work to ensure, along with the other aspects of the law, that this does not occur moving forward.
For these reasons, the proposed rules will go a long way in solving for the challenges building owners and managers have experienced in recent years relating to short-term rentals. Ensuring that the City can properly enforce its laws in this area is vital to providing New Yorkers with access to housing, ensuring building security, and maintaining the quality of life that permanent residents expect across the five boroughs. As a result, OSE should promptly finalize the proposed rules without weakening these critical protections.
Thank you for the consideration of these points.