Speaker Christine Quinn, along with other elected officials, introduced a new legislation that would increase the fines and crack down the operation of illegal hotels throughout the city, at a hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
Owners of residential single room occupancy buildings have been converting their properties into illegal hotels, by renting rooms to tourists at lower prices than standard hotels. However, this problem creates much larger problems for the community than a simple illegal use of a residential building.
“Time and time again we hear from residents who have been pushed out of their homes by landlords looking to make a quick buck. Our legislation will make sure there are immediate and severe consequences for landlords who endanger the safety of residents and tourist and take away affordable housing from New Yorkers in need,” stated Council Speaker Christine Quinn at the hearing.
The proposed law will include fines ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 for illegal hotel violators.
Speaker Quinn and the City Council estimated that there could be around 35,000 apartments that have been converted into illegal hotels. Many of them can be found in the Lower East Side, however earlier this year there were a few illegal hotels discovered in the Upper West Side.
For tenants that are living in one of those building, late night disturbances have been caused by tourist return late at night, and illegal changes have occurred that have comprised the safety of residents and firefighter in the event of an emergency.
In 2010, New York State passed a law that increased the protection of residents by placing strict restrictions on operating illegal hotels. However, the problem still persists and the City Council wants to make sure that there is available affordable housing for New Yorkers and safe conditions for tourists. State Senator Liz Krueger was one of the representatives that introduced that bill and attended the hearing.
“Illegal hotel operators have removed thousands of affordable apartments from an already tight housing market, hurting tenants across the city. The City Council’s action today sends a strong message to these scofflaws: breaking the law is not a good business model,” stated Senator Krueger.
Elected officials and displaced tenants were not the only people there to show their support. Representatives of the Hotel Association were voicing their opposition to the operation of illegal hotels.
Vijay Dandpani, President of Apple Core Hotels and member of the Hotel Association, explained that the operators of the illegal hotels do not conform to the safety regulations that are in place for hotels.
Before the law goes into effect the City Council has to approve the proposed legislation.
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