Quicklink: How To Beat The High Cost Of Living In North Brooklyn?

I— as I imagine you, gentle readers— have often asked this very question. Thankfully we have Brooklyn Based to tell us how to make our apartments work while we play: rent it out to total strangers as a vacation rental! Preferably via Airbnb (which gets not one, not two, but three plugs in Brooklyn Based’s tome).

Yours trulys favorite passages are as follows:

“Once it’s up and running, it’s easy money,” says Julian, who first joined the Airbnb community in February 2010 (and asked that his last name not be used). The income from managing several listings around Brooklyn, all of which are already booked for the summer, covers the rent on a two-bedroom Williamsburg apartment, and has helped fund his dream: restaurant-ownership. This summer he’s opening Dear Bushwick on Wilson Avenue. (So much for anonymity; the State Liquor Authority’s web site took care of that.— Ed. Note)

It’s important to know that in May 2011, a New York state law went into effect to ban short-term residential rentals for less than 30 days, to help crack down on “illegal hotels.” While the law was designed to target apartment owners who were using residential buildings as hotels, it has created somewhat of grey area when it comes to Airbnb… 

“You have to be smart,” says Julian. He now rents and maintains four separate apartments throughout Brooklyn, three of which he uses exclusively to host Airbnb travelers. “I tell guests to keep their heads down and not make too much noise. You want to avoid 311 complaints—if you get a handful you might have a problem. But at this point the city can’t do much about it—they would have to set up a whole new department for dealing with this kind of stuff.” (So basically “Julian” concedes that what he is doing is illegal, but persists because there is a lack of enforcement. Interesting. — Ed. Note.)

It’s true that law enforcement currently only responds to complaints; assuming landlords or neighbors aren’t annoyed or bothered by what you do with your apartment. In this City Room post, Senator Liz Krueger, one of the sponsors of the bill* that makes short-term sublets illegal, says that “The city is not going to knock on doors.”

So, get permission or tread lightly. Julian relayed the story of a friend who wasn’t allowed to renew her lease after her management company found out she was subleasing her apartment through Airbnb without their approval. “You probably don’t want to rent your apartment in an area where people have been living for years,” he says. “It’s better when people are coming and going—so neighborhoods like Bushwick or the NYU area make it easier to keep a low profile.”

And last— but hardly least— my personal favorite:

“Go the extra step,” Julian says. “Leave a six-pack of beer in the fridge for guests. It doesn’t cost much, but it makes people happy.”

I can personally attest to the joy-giving properties of beer— but are the consumers Julian’s suds of legal age? He doesn’t indicate. I hope State Liquor Authority is paying attention to this.

In closing: Isn’t it refreshing to know “Julian” is able to afford to afford a two bedroom apartment in Williamsburg and open a bar in Bushwick because he is pressing residential space which could— at least theoretically— house families (or other “eyes on the street”) into service as a transient hotel? Or that Brooklyn Based saw fit to be an enabler for a phenomenon which, while in a “gray area” from a legal standpoint, indisputably undermines the quality of life and safety of those who have the misfortune of calling these “entrepreneurs” neighbors? And all in the name of “easy money”? The word “disgusting” does not even begin to cover how I feel about this.

Those of you who care to do so can read Brooklyn Based’s tome in its entirety by clicking here. Otherwise any of you who have had experiences with a neighbor (or tenant) leasing his/her apartment as a vacation rental please share your thoughts via comments or email at: missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com.

Your identity will remain anonymous if you so desire. Thanks!

*Here’s another sponsor of said bill: Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, 75th Assembly District. How do I know this? Very simple: someone from his office contacted me— two years ago.

P.S.: While I am vaguely on the subject of tourists and tourism, my comrade in the East Village, Jeremiah Moss, has authored an excellent piece. Here’s a passage I found particularly interesting:

As Fran Lebowitz said in an interview, “Present-day New York has been made to attract people who didn’t like New York. That’s how we get a zillion tourists here, especially American tourists, who never liked New York. Now they like New York. What does that mean? Does that mean they’ve suddenly become much more sophisticated? No. It means that New York has become more like the places they come from.”

Please take a moment to give it a read.

Quicklink: A Timely New York Times Editorial

It was recently brought to my attention by a buddy of mine at Joe Lentol’s office that legislation has been brought forward by State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried to end the nuisance that are illegal hotels in our city (such as the now defunct Luxe Guesthouse which operated at 184 Eagle Street right here in the Garden Spot and can be seen at left) once and for all. What’s more, the New York Times has seen fit to print a pretty good editorial supporting this legislation. Please give this item a read and, if you agree, take a moment to make our Governor aware that you do not support residential apartments— especially those in rent stabilized buildings— being pressed into service as transient housing. Housing in New York City should be for New Yorkers, not tourists.


Miss Heather

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