The Idea of “Permanent Occupancy”: A New York Tenant’s Airbnb Fine Overturned

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on January 8, 2014

One thing’s for sure: real estate law, while strict, is also very particular about the facts. The legal industry, as a whole, is all about facts, to be honest. But this case, specifically, we can see the writing on the wall, and it’s all about the plain facts! I can’t stress that enough. This is about a man by the name of Nigel Warren, New York native, who was fined for renting a room to a tourist in his apartment for a few days through the online booking site Airbnb. What was the neighborhoodproblem?

Here’s the deal: it’s actually against the law to rent out any home – whether it’s a single-family, apartment or just a room – for less than 30 days, if you, yourself, aren’t actually living there. You’ll see this restriction elsewhere as well, especially for short-term hotels. That made it pretty cut and dry, except for one important fact:

It was discovered that Warren’s roommate actually occupied the apartment’s second bedroom at the time of the tourist’s stay. Read over the law one  more time, and you’ll come to realize that it, in fact, wasn’t violated. The apartment was actually occupied by someone – true, not Warren himself, but someone else who rents and actually lives there – while renting out a room in that apartment for someone else for less than 30 days.

Under that statute, this situation doesn’t apply. So the New York City regulatory board overturned the decision of the administrative law judge responsible for issuing a fine against Nigel Warren. Sadly, though, Warren ended up paying the fine anyway without any argument.

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