There are probably going to be a lot more Airbnb sting operations

By Virginia K. Smith  | May 4, 2015 - 4:10PM

Even if your neighbor isn't snitching on your Airbnb side hustle (and the cops aren't busting in sans warrant), NYC hosts have got something new to worry about: "sting" operations like the highly publicized recent efforts of city assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who posed as a short-term renter to incriminate hosts, as Mashable reported over the weekend.

Rosenthal even caught hosts on video warning her not to mention Airbnb to anyone else in the building, management companies posting as tenants, and entire rental buildings being run as illegal short-term hotels. In other words, her findings confirmed everyone's worst fears about Airbnb's potential adverse affects on the city's rental market. "I think it's an excellent way to actually show the problem," Rosenthal told Mashable. "It's a useful way to crystallize the situation."

Naturally, Airbnb says it doesn't condone these kinds of abuses, and that it has removed "thousands of [illegal] listings" from the site. However, their warning to hosts on the site isn't exactly the most intimidating thing we've ever seen. Here's what pops up when you list a rental within New York City:

The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law (available here) prohibits short-term rentals of property in Class A multiple dwellings used for permanent residence purposes (which includes most apartment buildings but not single and two-family buildings) unless a permanent occupant of the apartment is present during the stay, no money is exchanged, or if the stay is longer than thirty consecutive days.

Given the amount of abuses even a week-long sting uncoveredand the amount of PR this garnered Rosenthal, and the fact that the city's beefing up its illegal hotel investigations—we have a feeling this is far from the last "sting" we'll see over the coming months. And don't forget, even if you're just an innocent Airbnb renter, you could end up starring in a whole other kind of undercover video.


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