Last week, a state judge issued a seemingly precedent-setting ruling for New York City renters, finding that a Financial District tenant couldn't be evicted for subletting her place on Airbnb--or at least, that's how the New York Post reported the story.
But the decision wasn't exactly the game-changer it was said to be. After the story was picked up by numerous outlets (including this one), attorneys involved in the case slammed the Post's reporting as both "misleading and inaccurate," Habitat Magazine reports, and the case's winning attorney Kent Gubrud even told the site, "I'm thinking of suing the Post."
So what really happened here?
Apparently, the ruling was incredibly specific--even though the Post stated it could "open the floodgates" for home-sharing and short-term rentals--so much so that it's not expected to have any larger implications for Airbnb users around the city. And rather than being a case about using the short-term rental site, as it seemed from the press reports, this was actually a pretty straightforward dispute about a tenant allegedly violating her lease and a landlord trying to kick her out.
"It was a narrow ruling, but the Post made it out to be a lot bigger than I think it really is," Gubrud told Habitat.
In this particular case, the real issue at hand was a "notice-to-cure" one. The landlord had attempted to evict the tenant for violation of her lease after she'd already "cured" the issue at hand. Here, the problem happened to be her use of Airbnb, Habitat writes, but really, the ruling could have been issued for just about any other "curable" infraction (i.e. noise complaints, etc.). Airbnb was a small detail in this case, not the real crux of the issue.
Also, the Multiple Dwelling Law, which forbids the short-term sublets that are commonly found on Airbnb, does, indeed, cover renters as well as landlords. But it wasn't actually at issue in this case, which Habitat notes was primarily about real-property law.
In other words, the case likely won't be taken as any kind of precedent as far as the legality of using your apartment for short-term rentals. So we can expect many, many more months of Airbnb and the Attorney General battling things out, both in legal cases and the court of public opinion.