Tenant rights group criticizes Keith Wright’s illegal hotel legislation

Photo: Judy Sanders - Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo
Assemblyman Keith Wright

Tenant rights group criticizes Keith Wright’s illegal hotel legislation

Tenant rights group criticizes Keith Wright’s illegal hotel legislation
April 27, 2016

A tenants’ rights organization that fights illegal hotels in New York City is criticizing a bill sponsored by Assembly Housing Committee Chair Keith Wright, which they argue would actually promote such hotels.

The bill would create a short-term rental registration process for people living in Class A buildings, which are designated to have only permanent residents, to allow them to rent out apartments on a short-term basis. Residents who rent their apartment more than 30 days would also be required to register, but those who rent out their apartment for less than 30 days would not, which would allow them to occasionally rent out their apartments for vacations, according to bill language.

Tom Cayler, chairman of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance’s Illegal Hotel Committee, argued that this would allow for all apartments in a building to be rented out as transient units. 

“So that means 100 percent of units in a Class A building can be used as illegal hotels,” said Tom Cayler, chairman of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance’s Illegal Hotel Committee. “Something else (that’s problematic included in the bill) because the language is so vague, that means any unit that is also receiving a (housing) tax break can be rented as an illegal hotel. It doesn’t cut out that class at all.”

A spokeswoman for Wright disagreed with Cayler’s criticism.

“The assemblyman's bill fights against illegal hotels by requiring transparency and reporting of any short term stay,” said Emma Forbes, Wright’s communications director. “Notably, the bill hasn't moved in committee since its introduction because there has yet to be consensus from residents and stakeholders around a solution that fits everyone's needs while prioritizing the preservation of affordable housing."

Cayler also criticized the bill’s language. The bill says it is used to deal with the “good actors” to allow them to rent out their apartments short-term.

Cayler and his organization met with Wright, who has publicly fought against illegal hotels. Wright has sponsored the bill and reintroduced it into the Assembly each legislative session since 2014. The bill currently has no sponsor in the state Senate.

However, Cayler said legislative insiders told him the bill was being used as a “placeholder” to ensure it does not advance in the Assembly.

“It was really shocking to us that he didn’t actually seem to know much about the bill he had has name on,” he said. “He was not well-informed about it. His chief of staff was the one who knew about this particular bill.”

The group was asked to write a memo with a list of their concerns about the bill and send it to Wright’s office. They did, but never heard any response.

Ashley Hupfl
20181118