New York and Paris: Winning the Battle to Protect Rights to Short-Term Rentals
Volume XI, Issue 21
In my humble opinion, lawmakers are out of their minds! New York City officials are outlawing short-term rentals (less than 29 days) in an attempt to prevent landlords from “turning residential properties into hotels,” having determined that Airbnb is illegal.
This is not so different from Paris’ attempt to outlaw rentals less than one year, although 29 days and one year are clearly quite a different housing term. Neither one is acceptable from a consumer point of view.
Airbnb responded to the decision with the following statement:
“This decision runs contrary to the stated intention and the plain text of New York law, so obviously we are disappointed. But more importantly, this decision makes it even more critical that New York law be clarified to make sure regular New Yorkers can occasionally rent out their own homes. There is universal agreement that occasional hosts like Nigel Warren were not the target of the 2010 law, but that agreement provides little comfort to the handful of people, like Nigel, who find themselves targeted by overzealous enforcement officials. It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes. Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in — they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law.”
And let’s look at it this way: not only do landlords have no right to do what they want with their own property, but those who need the housing have no right to have it! Isn’t that insane?
Imagine you’re a family of four, or even six or eight. Where are you housing yourself and your kids for any length of time, much less for one month or more? In a few hotel rooms or a hotel suite with no kitchen? I don’t think so.
Let’s face it. Hotels hate private apartments that eat into their profits. And the permanent residents in the buildings aren’t thrilled about non-residents wandering their halls. But, does that make it acceptable to take away both the rights of landlords and tenants?
If a homeowners association (or “copropriété”) deems it against the bylaws for its own members, that’s one thing — they should have the right to govern themselves, but when the city imposes law that is clearly unjust just for the sake of satisfying a hotel lobby or special interest group, this is taking it too far.
Here in Paris we face a similar issue, although it’s a bigger battle because it attempts to control housing available for less than one full year. This means it affects many thousands of owners who live in the city part-time and wish to supplement the costs of ownership with rental revenue, and it affects many more thousands of visitors who stay for as little as three days and up to 364 (tourists, business people, students, etc.)! Fortunately, a one-year lease has a one-month cancellation term and therefore, by law, a tenant can rent the property for just one month…legally — and no one can say otherwise (except for the copropriété which might deem rental of any kind against the bylaws).
The issue in Paris all began in November of 2009 thanks to two self-serving individuals who used the little-known laws to their advantage. The laws had been on the books for years with no enforcement. My guess is that Paris’ Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoë, who ran on a platform of finding more affordable housing, placed the laws there to show his constituents he was actually doing something about it. At the time, no one knew about them — not the Notaires, the lawyers, the landlords or the tenants.
Of these two individuals, one was a property manager fired from his job who took revenge on the company by denouncing all its owners. The other was an agency owner/manager who wanted to promote her long-term rental business by denigrating short-term rentals. Both had something to personally gain by publicizing the laws and they did an outstanding job.
The city wasn’t prosecuting openly at the time — only those who were denounced by their neighbors (we call this “ratting”). Once the public became aware of the laws, neighbors used them to their advantage to point fingers at their fellow neighbors. It spread like wildfire to the point that the city has had no choice, but to follow up and begin prosecution on a larger scale.
Rental agencies, landlords, tenants and tourist office officials have gone to battle against it. Landlords are in the unfortunate position of defending themselves or changing the way they rent their properties. Tenants are taking one year leases and canceling them short of one year to comply with the law, if they have to. But one thing is for sure, this isn’t going to go away.
Landlords need to pay for their investments and tenants need the housing. Legal or not, people will find a way to satisfy these two very basic needs, so lawmakers, get a reality check! You can’t win this one, really, not in the long run, no matter how hard you try!
(All in my humble opinion…)
Editor, French Property Insider & Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC
Email: [email protected]
P.S. Parler Paris and Parler Nice Apartments are still very much alive and kicking. Trust in the old saying, “An apartment is only as good as its owner,” so don’t use Airbnb to rent direct from the owner — it’s a big risk to take! Trust in rental professionals for the highest quality accommodations! Visit Adrianleeds.Com to book your next stay in Paris or Nice.
P.P.S Attend the Living and Investing in France Conference in Nice September 27-29, and remember that the deadline to receive the special, reduced conference rate on your hotel booking is fast approaching! Book your room at the beautiful Hotel Ellington by May 31, 2013 to receive the lowest rate possible. See Living and Investing in France – Nice for details.