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Gray areas abound in Airbnb disputes

In what has become a complicated and interesting battle between landlords, tenants, the city and companies like AirBnb, it appears that New York City officials have begun to assign violations to landlords when their property is being used to rent out space through home-sharing companies such as AirBnb. This may further heighten tensions between not only tenants who illegally use their rented space for such home-sharing endeavors, but also the relationship between the city and landlords.

Landlords believe that in order to prevent these from happening, they should not be fined, but that the tenants who are operating illegally should receive the citations. But according to the Department of Buildings, building owners are also responsible for the actions that occur within their property.

A representative for the landlords argued that if the landlords, who often are reporting the illegal activity at their own property, were not previously aware of the violations, they should not be penalized. In one instance, a hearing officer at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings cleared the landlord of the violations. This was just one instance, but there will be many more.

With the popularity and ability to earn money from home-sharing companies like AirBnb, it may become more common to see these specifically addressed in contracts. Violating a contract between a landlord and tenant could put the tenant in hot water, and out on the streets. It remains to be seen how these new types of landlord/tenant disputes will play out in court, but regardless, it likely would be in your best interest, if you find yourself in such a situation, to prepare yourself with a strong legal team. Having the right team at your side may make a substantial difference in how the courts rule.

Source: Crain's New York Business, "City fines landlords who report Airbnb violations," Joe Anuta, July 11, 2017

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