NYC Airbnb hosts on brink of foreclosure following city clampdown: report

New York City’s Airbnb clampdown has owners of one- and two-family homes claiming they are fighting to stave off foreclosure as income from their short-term rentals dries up, The Post has learned.

Since the new rule – known as Local Law 18 — went into effect in September, property owners’ housing costs have surged to more than 50% of their income, according to a study by a grassroots group representing single- and two-family homeowners that was presented to some members of the City Council this week.

The report by Restore Home Ownership Authority and Rights, or RHOAR — obtained exclusively by The Post — said the financial hit could put their members at risk of losing their homes at a time when home foreclosures citywide are up 44% from a year ago.

More than a third of the group’s 500 members — who span all five boroughs and are mainly retired, unemployed or self-employed — say they can’t afford their expenses without the rental income, according to the RHOAR report.

“We are not living in multi-family apartment buildings where you share common spaces,” RHOAR member Jean Lamb told The Post. “Our common spaces are ours and we should have the right to share our homes with whomever we want.”

The irate homeowners say they are collateral damage after city officials — including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams — had said they would not be the prime targets of the new restrictions before the law was passed by the City Council.

“We were clear our intent is not to go after one- and two-family homeowners,” Williams had told The City in 2019.

One and two-family homes that rent space on Airbnb are spending a greater portion of their income on their housing costs since NYC’s crackdown on home-sharing apps.
Stephen Yang

Brooklyn homeowner Margenett Moore-Roberts had been renting out the ground floor of her two-family home in Bedford-Stuyvesant for between $150 and $400 per night, but fears she won’t be able to make ends meet after Dec. 1 – when Airbnb’s grace period ends for reservations that were on the books before the law went into effect.. 

“The income that we were able to consistently rely on allowed us to afford our month-to-month expenses,” Moore-Roberts told The Post.

Williams, a fierce Airbnb critic, now admits the new regulations are an imperfect solution.

“Local Law 18 is a first step, one which may need to be evaluated and adjusted over time, but it is an important step,” Williams told The Post.

Private homeowners argue that they should be exempt from a law that lumps them in with apartment buildings.
David McGlynn

“We urge the Office of Special Enforcement to focus on large-scale bad actors depleting our city’s housing stock, rather than New Yorkers operating in good faith to try and make ends meet amid the ongoing affordability crisis.”

Local Law 18 bans separate apartments or living quarters for short-term stays in both apartment buildings and private homes, imposing stiff penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. It limits rentals to two guests. and reservations can’t be made for less than 30 days without being registered with the city.

It also requires owners to be present during the entirety of the stay and that guests must have unrestricted access to common rooms in the dwelling.

Airbnb has seen its listings plunge more than 75% since the rule went into effect.

Opponents of Airbnb argue that the units are not safe and contribute to the housing crisis in NYC.

Legislators pushed through the legislation in an effort to cut down on the thousands of short-term apartment rentals, mainly in Manhattan, in an effort to address the city’s affordable housing shortage and abusive practices by rogue landlords who turned apartments into hotel rooms.

However, those who had rented out units in their homes, especially in the outer boroughs, are feeling the financial fallout.

Another longtime Airbnb host who lives in a townhouse in Greenpoint fears she won’t be able to cover her mortgage payments as her income stream dwindles.

Leslie, a single mom who did not want to use her full name, said she is registered with the city but has no reservations for January and February. 

“People don’t want to stay in a shared space,” she said.

Airbnb’s short-term listings in NYC have declined by more than 75% since the Sept. rule was implemented.
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The RHOAR report urged legislators to amend the the law.

There is precedent for the apartment buildings and private homes to be treated differently under the law. For example, private homes are not required to have sprinklers or register with the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, Lamb said.

Former City Council member Ben Kallos, who wrote the registration legislation, had signaled that private homeowners had nothing to fear from Local Law 18.

“I don’t think that we’re really focused on going after somebody who is going away for a weekend,” he told Fox 5 New York last year.

Airbnb didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.