From a €17 pad in Sharm Sheikh to a €61 room on Gaza Beach and a cave home in Israel, AirBnB is used widely across the Middle East, but the San Francisco-based startup ran into a glitch recently which could mean trouble for the rest of the world. A New York City administrative judge ruled that one man’s temporary rental to a Russian tourist violates city law.
Administrative Law Judge Clive Morrick ruled that Nigel Warren’s three day rental to the Russian woman arranged through AirBnB’s website violated the city’s illegal hotel law, which stipulates rentals under 29 days function like transient housing or informal hotels.
Morrick wrote in his ruling that unit owners are bound by law to “restrict their use to permanent occupation,” CNET reports.
The original $7,000 fine passed down to Warren was reduced to $2,400 since Morrick decided not to hold him accountable for other land use code violations.
AirBnB stepped in to help Warren, arguing that eighty-seven percent of New Yorkers who use their service are renting rooms in their own homes in order to make ends meet. After all, New York City property prices are notoriously exorbitant.
In a statement to CNET, AirBnB expressed regret about the ruling. Here is an excerpt from that statement:
“…There is universal agreement that occasional hosts like Nigel Warren were not the target of the 2010 law, but that agreement provides little comfort to the handful of people, like Nigel, who find themselves targeted by overzealous enforcement officials. It is time to fix this law and protect hosts who occasionally rent out their own homes…”
Meanwhile, in the Middle East, AirBnB is probably abused more – much in the same way that Egyptian couchsurfers violate the spirit of Couchsurfing by trying to get it on with western girls.
A cursory search pulls up a slew of informal hotel rooms in dense urban environments across the region and in remote countryside locations and they almost assuredly circumvent city and national zoning laws.
But they are unlikely to be regulated.