BY MATT SHORTALL
The unassuming white colonial home in Broadway-Flushing listed on AirBnB boasts six bedrooms able to accommodate up to 13 guests. The residence is advertised as a single-family home, but the listing is meant to attract renters seeking a cheap party/event space on short notice.
Last Friday, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), delivered a press conference alongside the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association to oppose the listing of single-family homes on AirBnB for multiple renters or as party spaces, both of which they say are in violation of the City’s administrative code, zoning and deed restrictions.
“This listing represents everything that’s wrong with AirBnB,” said Avella in a press statement. “This is a quiet, residential neighborhood and the advertisement is encouraging large groups to come and hold events, creating a revolving door of unknown groups of people.”
The listing for the 35-32 159th St. home encourages renters to use the property for big events. “Large groups are welcome,” its AirBnB page says. Last October, there was a shooting at a party in a home in Bayside that had been rented out as a party space.
In 2010, the “Illegal Hotel Law” was enacted to prohibit short-term rentals of certain residential apartments. The law forbids tenants from renting out permanent residential buildings with three units or more to transient visitors for less than 30 days. In 2016, the City Council sought to expand this law by imposing fines for advertising illegal apartments. The regulation would only apply to Class A multiple dwellings, however, not to one or two family homes.
The Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association continues to enforce the Rickert-Finlay Covenant, which restricts development in ways not covered under the usual New York City zoning or building ordinances.
“This situation exemplifies why AirBnB is so potentially damaging to single-family neighborhoods like Broadway-Flushing,” said urban planner Paul Graziano. “This owner is flagrantly violating the stipulation in the Rickert-Finlay Covenant which restricts any residence to one-family only.”
The particular zoning precedent offers the Homowners Association greater resources than most other neighborhoods for enforcing laws against illegal dwellings.
“Because this AirBnB listing violates the Rickert-Finlay Covenant applicable to this home, Broadway-Flushing has some legal recourse,” explained Avella. “Other neighborhoods don’t have that same protection and residential homes being used commercially are hurting their quality of life.”
Local residents are fighting back with every legal precedent at their disposal.
“The home has essentially been turned into a hotel,” said Janet McCreesh, President of the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners Association. “We have contacted the Department of Buildings, AirBnB, and all elected officials who represent Broadway-Flushing. Additionally, the Association has taken steps to initiate legal action to enforce the Rickert-Finlay Covenant by issuing cease and desist order to the homeowner.”
Legal proceedings are ongoing and AirBnB did not return a request for comment.