Apartment Rental Website Airbnb Wins Appeal

Airbnb, the San Francisco-based bed and breakfast startup, has successfully helped to win an appeal for one of its users whose landlord was fined $2,400 for renting out his apartment for three nights. The East Village tenant, Nigel Warren, fought the ruling with his landlord, Abe Carrey, and Airbnb, with the primary argument being that renting a room does not violate the law, as long as a resident under the lease is present during the guest’s stay.

Airbnb, with the bnb standing for bed and breakfast, was founded in 2008 and allows for travelers to rent rooms, or sometimes entire apartments and houses, from a community of users in several cities around the world. Users post their rooms with the location and nightly rate. A quick search on the website produces a list of over a thousand places for rent in New York City.

The original court ruling found that Carrey violated the city code on transient hotels, as his tenant rented out his room to a Russian tourist for three nights. Airbnb decided to get involved in the case in June, as the ruling was essentially a threat to its entire business model. Though Warren was not in the apartment during the tourist’s stay, his roommate, a permanent occupant, was.

While this ruling is certainly a step in the right direction for Airbnb, the company is not entirely in the clear just yet. With this ruling, it seems that hosts who are not present during a guest’s stay would be breaking the short-term rental laws, which could result in possible fines for landlords. Fearing those fines, it’s likely that building owners will forbid tenants to sublet their apartments. While longer term rentals in New York City aren't expected to be impacted, city hotels are concerned that Airbnb is taking what would otherwise be their guests.

Still, high-profile events, such as the upcoming Super Bowl in MetLife Stadium, prove that tenants are willing to take the risks, as they are successfully listing their rooms and apartments for more than four times more than they would during an ordinary week, as hotels are booked to capacity