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Avella proposes bill to regulate Airbnb

State Sen. Tony Avella speaks about his proposed legislation in response to community complaints against by Airbnb and its guests Tuesday night.
Photo by Steve Goodstein
By Steven Goodstein

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) may have a solution to an ongoing residential issue.

A new measure was presented during Bayside Hills Civic Association’s general meeting at Colonial Church of Bayside — located at 54-02 217th St. — late last month. At the meeting, Avella spoke about his proposed legislation in response to the community’s complaints caused by Airbnb and its guests.

Avella’s bill would regulate Airbnb, including six requirements: proper record keeping, law enforcement’s access to these records, guest photo identification, advertisements with the property address stated, owner confirmation of no outstanding violations and enforcement of residential zoning laws.

A proper registration record of home-sharing history for Airbnb should include the guest’s name, current residence, as well as the date of arrival and departure. The legislation would require these records to be kept for three years. These records must be provided to regulators or law enforcement upon request.

“Building codes and zoning codes have confirmed that much of this is being done illegally and it’s a mystery as to why the city hasn’t enforced this law,” said Avella, who has been working towards passing this type of bill for the past year. “The emphasis is especially on one-, two-family homes in residential areas operating like they are in commercial zones. We have to enforce this law or else the problem will expand and continue to get worse.”

Passage of Avella’s bill would also mean that hotels, short-term rentals and other lodging establishments must request a guest’s legal photo identification before checking in. Other requirements include the property address being included on short-term rental advertisements as well as confirmation from the owner that the property does not have any outstanding violations with the city Department of Buildings.

Additionally, this legislation would strictly enforce zoning laws to prohibit commercial activity in residential neighborhoods.

One resident at the meeting commented on a house near 213th Street and 56th Avenue. In mid-April, the house played host to about 100 college students and received multiple 911 complaint calls. The resident added that one of the students actually hit his car with their vehicle.

Avella suggested that neighbors whose daily lives are affected by operating Airbnb homes should fill out an affidavit.

Community Board 11 district manager Joseph Marziliano confirmed one Airbnb complaint from June 5 within the board’s confines.

“It’s definitely a general concern – even if there haven’t been many recent complaints in this area,” Marziliano said. “I encourage residents who are aware of this to file a complaint with their community board and/or the DOB and an investigation will be launched to see if the home is being purposed to transient use.

Even President Trump’s childhood home — located at 85-15 Wareham Road in Jamaica Estates — was listed on Airbnb’s website last summer. The home was eventually taken off the Airbnb website after the DOB issued a partial vacate order, in response to the illegal conversion of the home’s basement into an apartment without DOB’s approval.

In 2015, two men were shot after leaving a party at an Airbnb-rented home at 213-45 28th Ave. in Bayside. It was reported that upwards of about 200 were present at the party, which took place in the basement.

The next state legislative session will begin in January, when Avella looks forward to moving forward on this process.

Reach Steven Goodstein by e-mail at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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