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Vacation rental site Airbnb ruled illegal in New York City

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If you're one of the many who love Airbnb for offering travelers a host of cheap lodging alternatives, especially in big, expensive cities, consider this: Airbnd is now illegal in New York City.

According to CNET, New York officials have ruled that those who rent out their apartments like a bed-and-breakfast violate the city's illegal hotel law that prevents people from renting out their property for less than 29 days.

The ruling centered around Nigel Warren who rented out his East Village apartment on Airbnb for three nights while he was out of town, reports WNYC.  Despite Airbnb stepping in on Warren's behalf, officials have fined him $2,400 for violating the city's law that was originally set up to protect against landlords running illegal hotels from their property.

"Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in--they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law."

- Airbnb

Airbnb in a statement said the ruling is a concern for those who want to occasionally rent out their own homes. "It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes. Eighty-seven percent of Airbnb hosts in New York list just a home they live in--they are average New Yorkers trying to make ends meet, not illegal hotels that should be subject to the 2010 law."

So what does this mean if you've just scored a whole three-story brownstone in Harlem for $800?  You probably won't get kicked out, nor will the host land in jail.  The city only enforces the rule when a complaint is filed --so, for example, the police will have to come for a noise complaint first, according to CNET. 

The San Francisco-based Airbnb, which launched four years ago, has become an increasingly popular way for travelers to book lodging and to live like a local.  Unlike other vacation-rental sites, travelers can search for different types of lodging, such as a whole house, a private room in somebody’s home, or a couch to crash on, for example. 

But, the New York ruling does put into question the future success of Airbnb--and sites like it, not just in New York City, but other places like San Francisco.

Officials in San Francisco have expressed concern about the possibility of property owners using Airbnb to get around local tenant protections and land use codes.  The company recently posted a listing for a $520-a-month rental space is someone's Chevy van in the city's trendy Mission district, reports the Wall Street Journal.  Also, officials point out that apartments offered on Airbnb don't have to adhere to the same fire safety codes as hotels do. 

Will this ruling make you think twice about renting a space on Airbnb?  Let us know.