Sunday, November 11, 2012
City partners with illegal rental website to house Sandy victims
From The Huffington Post:
New York City officials and Airbnb said Wednesday they had struck a partnership to help connect victims of Hurricane Sandy with free short-term housing.
Airbnb, which launched four years ago as a way to aggregate short-term rental listings, makes money by taking a commission from rentals on its site. But in a blog post, the San Francisco-based startup said it would not recoup fees from the free listings in New York City offered by Good Samaritans in the wake of the superstorm.
The partnership is notable because New York City and Airbnb have often been at odds. Under a 2011 New York state law, short-term rentals like those offered on Airbnb are illegal, and city officials have been cracking down.
Since the law took effect, the city issued more than 2,500 violations, according to Businessweek. In September, New York city officials increased the fines on landlords who convert residential housing into unregulated hotel rooms to as much as $25,000, saying they violate city building code, damage neighbors’ qualify of life and put tourists in danger.
But on Wednesday, there were no signs of acrimony between the city and the startup -- only a call for help. The Twitter account for the mayor's office tweeted the announcement of the partnership.