When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill late last year to stop Airbnb hosts from turning their apartments into de facto hotels, bigger fines were supposed to deter a practice elected officials argued took much-needed apartments off the rental market.
But more than six months after city inspectors’ first round of enforcement, the de Blasio administration has collected only a fraction of the issued fines, which added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to a Crain’s analysis. In large part, the trouble is rooted in the city’s long-flawed collection system—where cases and appeals can take months to process and landlords have little reason to pay up—which could ultimately defang efforts to curb illegal home sharing.
Between November and May, the mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement targeted 16 properties in its first wave of inspections, issuing violations for operating an apartment as a hotel room. Inspectors also fined owners for building-code violations, like missing sprinklers and improper egress routes, and—beginning in February when the new law went into effect—for advertising units online. Few owners have paid up.