Home-sharing or illegal hotel?

Housing Brass Tacks is an informal discussion series designed as a primer on big ideas and essential mechanics in housing policy and development.

October 2, 2017
7:00 p.m.

Online hospitality marketplace or network of illegal hotels? Short-term rental website Airbnb advertises flexibility and unique experiences for travelers and extra money for hosts that open up their homes. Yet to many affordable housing advocates in New York City, the service exacerbates the city’s chronic housing shortage, contributes to gentrification, and endangers residents by flouting local health and fire laws.

According to independent data tracker Inside Airbnb, there were an estimated 41,000 Airbnb listings in New York City as of June 2017. Nearly half of those were for private rooms or homes—the majority of which are illegal under a local law that bans renting an apartment for fewer than 30 days in buildings with three or more units. A broad coalition that includes advocates, elected officials, and the hotel industry have rallied to fight the proliferation of short-term rentals that turn apartments over from permanent residents to transient tourists.

In our tenth Brass Tacks discussion, Patrick Tyrrell, a staff attorney at the nonprofit legal services firm Mobilization for Justice, will lay out the current policies governing short-term rentals in New York, the neighborhood-level impacts of Airbnb, and why campaigns against these de facto hotels have emerged here and around the country.

Ample time for conversation will follow Patrick’s presentation. You bring the questions, we’ll supply the experts and the wine.

Patrick Tyrrell is a tenants’ rights staff attorney at the nonprofit legal services and advocacy firm Mobilization for Justice. He believes that every New Yorker deserves innovative, compassionate, and zealous advocacy when it comes to disputes with their landlords. He has represented tenants in New York City Housing Court, Supreme Court, and various administrative hearings. He is a member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and serves on both its National Executive Committee and Housing Committee.

About Housing Brass Tacks

Understanding housing policy, finance, and regulation is daunting. One must wade through a sea of acronyms, untangle public and private interests, trace knotty financial flows, and decrypt complex bureaucracies. Making heads or tails of all this can take a lifetime, but the need to understand is urgent. We all feel New York City’s housing squeeze; increased affordable housing is a centerpiece of our mayor’s agenda; and sweeping changes in housing and community development policy may soon come at the federal level. The Architectural League is here to introduce (or refresh) our housing proficiency. Housing Brass Tacks is an informal discussion series designed as a primer on big ideas and essential mechanics in housing policy and development. We’re getting down to brass tacks: the fundamentals that structure this unwieldy topic.