The house-sharing website Airbnb is a growing economic force in Queens, based on research done by Manhattan-based real estate consultant HR&A Advisors.
Flushing resident Linda Landivar has been using the service for two years, renting two rooms in her two-family house to more than 200 guests during that period.
“My husband Robert and I are 3-D freelancers in advertising and we’ve both been out of work since December,” she said. “I get $50 a night for one room and $65 a night for a bigger room next to the bathroom. It really helps pay the bills.”
Landivar took over as a caretaker of the house when her father retired to Florida.
“He’d stay here for a few months every year, but the rest of the time the room was empty,” she said.
Landivar tried the six-year-old service that connects hosts with guests for short-term apartment rentals and had a guest stay in her house the first week.
“We’ve had pilots who need a rest between flights, European travelers stay here a lot and we’ve had out-of-town travelers who have spent the night after missing their flight at LaGuardia,” Landivar said. “I’ve never had a serious problem with a guest.”
The tech firm may have a problem in New York where state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena to Airbnb in October, requesting information on New York City’s 15,000 hosts and 25,000 listings. City laws make it illegal for a room or apartment to be rented out for under 30 days without a tenant present, Schneiderman wrote in the subpoena. There is also an issue with the city’s hotel tax that requires 14 percent of a hotel’s fees.
David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of global public policy, said, “The attorney general subpoenaed almost all of our hosts’ user data. We protested that demand in court, and now thousands of people have signed a petition demanding a new, better law in New York.”
Hantman speculated that the AG was after those hosts that abuse Airbnb’s platforms like illegal hotel operators and slumlords.