Personal Finance

Violations for Illegal Airbnb Rentals Are on the Rise in New York

Violations for Illegal Airbnb Rentals Are on the Rise in New York

Violations being issued for illegal Airbnb rentals in New York City (NYC) have been on the rise in recent months. These illegal short-term, full-apartment rentals are classified by NYC law enforcement as illegal hotels and despite current restrictions, there are still thousands of listings advertised on Airbnb's platform that conflict with local laws.
Historic Buildings in Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan
Historic Buildings in Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan Source: Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • An all-time high of 720 illegal hotel complaints were submitted to the Department of Buildings last month, a 152% increase when compared to May 2017.
  • Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea, neighborhoods in Manhattan, have been issued the most illegal hotel violations.
  • Neighborhoods with the highest volume of Airbnb listings, such as Brooklyn's Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant, stand to lose the most as the crackdown continues.

For years now, New York City has been cracking down on short-term Airbnb rentals, voicing concern about their effects on affordable housing, residents and tourism in the Big Apple. The city's local anti-Airbnb regulations are enforced through New York state's multiple dwelling law (MDL), which prohibits renting your full apartment to anyone for less than 30 days in buildings occupied by three or more families, which applies to the vast majority of housing units in NYC. These short-term, full-apartment rentals hosted through Airbnb's platform are classified by law enforcement as illegal hotels. Despite current restrictions, there are still thousands of listings advertised on Airbnb that conflict with local laws.

Airbnb Rentals in NYC (2015 - 2018)

Airbnb Rentals in NYC (2015 - 2018)

We looked at Airbnb listings in NYC from 2015 to 2018 to see how the number of available full-apartment rentals has changed over recent years. The plot above shows that the percentage of full-apartment rentals has been steadily declining, while the percentage of private and shared-room listings has been increasing. The drop in full-apartment rentals, a 7.4% decrease from 19,790 to 18,323 listings from October to November in 2016, comes as a small response to a law signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The anti-Airbnb law makes it illegal to advertise short-term rentals. Hosts or renters who violate this law are subject to a $1,000 fine on their first offense; a $5,000 fine on their second offense and a $7,500 fine on their third offense. Consumers interested in sharing their homes through Airbnb's platform must thoroughly review and remain up to date with local laws in NYC, building and zoning regulations and their renters or homeowners insurance policies.

Where Are Most Illegal Hotel Complaints and Violations Issued?

Most recently, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio's Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) has been leading the current crackdown on Airbnb rentals. The team includes 27 officials from the New York Police Department, Department of Buildings, Office of Special Enforcement, Fire Department of New York and other local teams. Hosts and renters sharing their homes through Airbnb can be difficult to pin down, so the agency has been targeting landlords and building owners for buildings racking up high numbers of illegal hotel complaints instead.

Illegal Hotel Complaints Over the Last 36 Months

Illegal Hotel Complaints Over the Last 36 Months

An all-time high of 720 illegal hotel complaints were submitted to NYC's Department of Buildings in May 2018, a 152% increase when compared to May 2017. Neighborhoods representing the majority of recent complaints are Hell's Kitchen and Chelsea. The number of violations issued for complaints has also increased by 150% over the last 12-month period, compared to the 12 months prior. Overall, Hell's Kitchen, Chelsea, Upper West Side, Upper East Side and Williamsburg have accumulated the most violations, with Hell's Kitchen leading by 54 violations.

Where Do Airbnb Home-sharers Stand to Be Fined the Most?

With the crackdown on Airbnb home sharing getting worse, we also wanted to pinpoint which NYC neighborhoods stand to be fined the most by listing volume alone. The map below shows where the greatest numbers of full-apartment rentals are located. Dark-shaded neighborhoods have a higher volume of full-apartment rental listings, while lighter-shaded neighborhoods have a lower volume.

Williamsburg leads with 1,858 full-apartment rentals listed with Airbnb. In total, 22 illegal hotel violations have already been issued in Williamsburg. Bedford-Stuyvesant, another neighborhood in Brooklyn, has the second-highest number of full-apartment rentals at 1,378, with only five violations issued overall. The East Village in Manhattan has the third-highest number of full-apartment rentals listed on Airbnb at 1,219, but it has not received any illegal hotel complaints or violations yet. You can check out the data in the table below.

NeighborhoodIllegal Hotel ComplaintsViolationsAirbnb ListingsRank
Allerton, Bronx007121
Arden Heights, Staten Island2001193
Arrochar, Staten Island1619107
Arverne, Queens703072
Astoria, Queens921035716
Bath Beach, Brooklyn2408113
Battery Park City, Manhattan1033667
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn7325059
Bay Terrace, Queens604147
Bay Terrace, Staten Island001193
Baychester, Bronx001193
Bayside, Queens1602183
Bedford-stuyvesant, Brooklyn42513782
Belle Harbor, Queens003158
Belmont, Bronx902172
Bensonhurst, Manhattan002086
Bergen Beach, Manhattan004147
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn22312938
Borough Park, Brooklyn3212086
Briarwood, Queens8011101
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn002675
Bronxdale, Bronx005138
Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn27311741
Brownsville, Brooklyn701889
Bushwick, Brooklyn1181657712
Cambria Heights, Queens303158
Canarsie, Brooklyn805656
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn0017535
Castle Hill, Bronx001193
Castleton Corners, Staten Island002172
Chelsea, Manhattan284327649
Chinatown, Manhattan0022028
City Island, Bronx007121
Civic Center, Manhattan004065
Claremont Village, Bronx301193
Clason Point, Bronx1116130
Clifton, Staten Island007121
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn44435716
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn007552
College Point, Queens1315138
Columbia St, Brooklyn002675
Concord, Staten Island002172
Concourse, Bronx001593
Concourse Village, Bronx007121
Coney Island, Brooklyn006130
Corona, Queens008113
Crown Heights, Brooklyn1771267710
Cypress Hills, Brooklyn002479
Ditmars Steinway, Queens47413437
Dongan Hills, Staten Island002172
Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn005358
Dumbo, Brooklyn002479
Dyker Heights, Brooklyn5226130
East Elmhurst, Queens2613170
East Flatbush, Brooklyn13112439
East Harlem, Manhattan941148415
East Morrisania, Bronx002172
East New York, Brooklyn14058449
East Village, Manhattan0012193
Eastchester, Bronx003158
Edenwald, Bronx002172
Edgemere, Queens001193
Elmhurst, Queens5334860
Eltingville, Staten Island001193
Far Rockaway, Far Rockaway1717121
Fieldston, Bronx006130
Financial District, Manhattan0024625
Flatbush, Brooklyn23123326
Flatiron District, Manhattan007651
Flatlands, Brooklyn002773
Flushing, Queens3692010347
Fordham, Bronx1303158
Forest Hills, Queens1716154
Fort Greene, Brooklyn0027421
Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn003170
Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island001193
Fresh Meadows, Queens307121
Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn001193
Glendale, Queens001298
Gowanus, Brooklyn0012340
Gramercy, Manhattan43523127
Graniteville, Staten Island002172
Grant City, Staten Island003158
Gravesend, Brooklyn2001593
Great Kills, Staten Island205138
Greenpoint, Brooklyn67656813
Greenwich Village, Manhattan1051528419
Grymes Hill, Staten Island003158
Harlem, Manhattan1651510726
Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan5718610687
Highbridge, Bronx308113
Hollis, Queens203158
Holliswood, Queens001193
Howard Beach, Queens106130
Howland Hook, Staten Island001193
Huguenot, Staten Island003158
Hunts Point, Bronx001193
Inwood, Manhattan15111342
Jackson Heights, Queens5035656
Jamaica, Queens3004364
Jamaica Estates, Queens007121
Kensington, Brooklyn1406853
Kew Gardens, Queens1801593
Kew Gardens Hills, Queens2901298
Kingsbridge, Bronx612086
Kips Bay, Manhattan1181527323
Laurelton, Queens1103158
Lighthouse Hill, Staten Island002172
Little Italy, Manhattan004761
Long Island City, Queens67520530
Longwood, Bronx0011101
Lower East Side, Manhattan1611453514
Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn6516130
Marble Hill, Manhattan008113
Mariners Harbor, Staten Island902172
Maspeth, Queens5113269
Melrose, Bronx003158
Middle Village, Flushing819107
Midland Beach, Staten Island005138
Midtown, Manhattan4848178
Midwood, Brooklyn3953766
Mill Basin, Brooklyn1512172
Morningside Heights, Manhattan0017634
Morris Heights, Manhattan614147
Morris Park, Bronx001193
Morrisania, Bronx004147
Mott Haven, Bronx002183
Mount Eden, Manhattan002172
Mount Hope, Bronx006130
Murray Hill, Manhattan0020729
Navy Yard, Brooklyn007121
Neponsit, Queens001193
New Brighton, Staten Island001193
New Dorp, Staten Island001193
New Dorp Beach, Staten Island001193
Noho, Manhattan146177750
Nolita, Manhattan0019233
North Riverdale, Yonkers001193
Norwood, Bronx7010104
Oakwood, Staten Island501193
Ozone Park, Queens2502183
Park Slope, Brooklyn60633718
Parkchester, Bronx409107
Pelham Bay, Bronx105138
Pelham Gardens, Bronx005138
Port Morris, Bronx1208113
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn77720031
Prospect-lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn0027520
Queens Village, Queens2601298
Randall Manor, Staten Island005138
Red Hook, Brooklyn2704462
Rego Park, Queens4443667
Richmond Hill, Queens1311988
Richmondtown, Staten Island001193
Ridgewood, Queens23111243
Riverdale, Bronx306130
Rockaway Beach, Queens002675
Roosevelt Island, Manhattan102281
Rosedale, Valley Stream208113
Schuylerville, Bronx001193
Sea Gate, Brooklyn003158
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn2014462
Shore Acres, Staten Island004147
Silver Lake, Staten Island001193
Soho, Manhattan0025224
Soundview, Bronx1604147
South Beach, Staten Island001193
South Ozone Park, Queens2108113
South Slope, Brooklyn0019632
Springfield Gardens, Jamaica001790
Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx004147
St. Albans, Queens1411395
St. George, Staten Island002479
Stapleton, Staten Zisland007121
Stuyvesant Town, Manhattan0010104
Sunnyside, Woodside43310845
Sunset Park, Brooklyn147716236
Theater District, Manhattan0010347
Throgs Neck, Bronx306130
Todt Hill, Staten Island001193
Tompkinsville, Staten Island9211101
Tottenville, Staten Island104147
Tremont, Bronx103158
Tribeca, Manhattan83810944
Two Bridges, Manhattan2222577
Unionport, Bronx001193
University Heights, Bronx002172
Upper East Side, Manhattan2552312193
Upper West Side, Manhattan2452411875
Van Nest, Bronx002172
Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn001691
Wakefield, Bronx219107
Washington Heights, Manhattan53327421
West Brighton, Staten Island704147
West Farms, Bronx203158
West Village, Manhattan0067211
Westchester Square, Bronx002172
Westerleigh, Staten Island002172
Whitestone, Queens1115138
Williamsbridge, Bronx0010104
Williamsburg, Brooklyn2372218581
Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn0010845
Woodhaven, Queens601395
Woodlawn, Bronx002172
Woodrow, Staten Island001193
Woodside, Queens8125955


We used scraped Airbnb data provided by Inside Airbnb to map rental listings in NYC. We only focused on apartment, serviced apartment, loft, townhouse, condominium and house property types with minimum stays of fewer than 30 days. Data on illegal hotel complaints was collected from NYC Open Data.