Jersey City Could Severely Limit Airbnb Rentals

17
Newark Avenue Downtown Jersey City
Newark Avenue, Downtown Jersey City. Photo by Jared Kofsky/Jersey Digs.

Just a few years after welcoming short-term rental services like Airbnb, Chilltown is decidedly less chill about them and seems likely to place significant restrictions on the practice that would take effect next year.

At the city’s council’s April 25 meeting, a new ordinance was unanimously introduced regarding short-term rentals and how the city would regulate them. It would completely replace 2015 regulations that essentially legalized all Airbnb-style rentals in Jersey City, only requiring that the rentals pay the city’s 6% hotel tax.

Embracing short-term rentals had been a financial boon for the city, as they’ve collected roughly $4 million in taxes from them since the ordinance was adopted. Jersey City was named the number one destination in New Jersey for Airbnb customers, but the new ordinance says short-term rentals are creating a housing crunch that’s being felt by residents.

“It is in the public interest that short-term rental uses be regulated in order to help preserve housing for long-term tenants and to minimize any potential deleterious effects of short-term rental properties on other properties in the surrounding neighborhoods,” the ordinance reads. “Long-term rental housing vacancy rates in the City are at low levels, making it increasingly difficult for people to obtain permanent housing in Jersey City.”

In addition, the ordinance states that the presence of short-term rentals in residential neighborhoods “can create negative compatibility impacts and nuisance violations, which include, but are not limited to, excessive noise, on-street parking, accumulation of trash, and diminished public safety.” The rentals are also increasingly common; an analysis by the Jersey Journal concluded that as many as one in every 15 rentals in Downtown are Airbnb-style.

The new ordinance would create a registration fee of $500 for a short-term rental permit, which would cost $300 to renew annually. It also severely limits the number of apartments that would be eligible to rent short-term, as they would be permitted by property owners only and exclude tenants. Additionally, the short-term rental of any dwelling where the owner is not present would only be allowed on 28 total nights per calendar year.

The ordinance does allow homeowners to rent rooms or an apartment at a building they reside in and will be present at without restrictions, but the permit they need to obtain has additional regulations. Every application for a short-term rental permit needs to undergo an annual inspection with the city’s fire safety regulations, and property owners will need to maintain an up-to-date log of all transient occupants who will be occupying the property that includes the names, ages, and dates of commencement and expiration of each short-term rental period.

Per the ordinance, owners are required to “use his or her best efforts to assure that use of the [short-term rental] by all transient occupants will not disrupt the neighborhood, and will not interfere with the rights of neighboring property owners to the quiet enjoyment of their properties.” The rules would impose fines of up to $2,000 for violators of the proposed regulations and the Director of the Division of Housing Preservation would have discretion “to revoke a short-term rental permit in the event of a single substantiated civil and/or criminal complaint and/or code violation if, in their sole discretion, the interests of the City and its residents justify immediate revocation.”

Mayor Steven Fulop supports the ordinance, tweeting last week that “the change preserves the initial goal of home sharing by still allowing hosts to supplement their income by renting a room in their house or an apartment in the building they live via Airbnb.”

Not surprisingly, Airbnb disagrees. In a letter addressed to Fulop, the company’s Head of Northeast Policy Josh Meltzer said they are “deeply concerned by the short-term rental legislation recently introduced in the City Council, which would undoubtedly jeopardize both the ability of locals to share their home to make some extra income as well as Jersey City’s tourism economy.”

Jersey City’s council could vote to approve the new ordinance at their May 8 meeting and if they do, the regulations would go into effect on January 1, 2020. The move to limit Airbnb rentals is the second about-face on a policy that was enacted during Fulop’s first term to emerge in recent weeks, as an ordinance that would reverse a 2015 ban on chain stores in parts of Downtown was advanced following a legal challenge.

--

Have something to add to this story? Email [email protected].

Click here to sign up for Jersey Dig's free emails and news alerts. Stay up-to-date by following Jersey Digs on Twitter and Instagram, and liking us on Facebook.

17 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not convinced of the need for this regulation. If, as according to the ordinance, only as many as “one in 15” rental units are now Airbnb-style, that means that at most it only accounts for less than 7% of the rental stock. Or to put it another way, 93% of rental units are still in the market for long-term renters. Before committing to such harsh regulation I would like to see a commissioned study by an economist actually assessing the impact to prove or not whether the ordinance’s claims are factual. My understanding was that with all the huge rental towers being constructed, there isn’t really a supply problem in JC. It seems to me that the issue in JC is much more to do with increased demand caused by increased population and the spillover effect of trends in the NYC market as opposed to marginal changes in supply caused by Airbnb. If individual buildings have issues with problem Airbnb guests, then its their prerogative to ban it from their building (my building does so) or institute property-specific rules and remedies.

  2. That’s complete bs… Anyone renting or people in general come with these complaints… This is discrimination…

  3. The new proposed regulations seem more than a bit draconian. Agree that it’s total bullshit especially regarding noise code violations as it is far more likely that a person residing in a long term rental will engage in late night noisy parties where they can invite local friends and family members. In general Air B’n’B tourists stay in JC with the sole purpose of visiting NYC and seeing the sights. It’s complete discrimination. So if one lives next door to a permanent resident who is a noisy asshole then it should follow that their lease will be revoked and if you own the property you will also be forced to move for ONE noise code violation. The city and it’s shitbag politicians will lose this one in court.

    • Agreed 100%! If this had any merits whatsoever, than I can just get my neighbor to be pushed out of the neighborhood for being loud! Common! Let’s get real! This was clearly a way to grab attention and see if they can get an additional tax somehow…

    • speaking as a neighbor/renter to Abnb, all I hear is loud voices all the time in between the houses, every 2-4 days, right under my window, in the summer worse, their outside partying( in the city maybe people expect it) I live in a quiet part so it is not expected or welcome. Gates slamming, wrong doorbells rung, loud kids running up and down the corridor, cars coming and going out of the driveway, sharing a vestibule with a stranger every 2 or 3 days….what’s not to love?
      Also, do the Abnb’ers who go to NYC to spend they’re money support the small JC businesses? Not really, they’re here to sleep and then move on. That’s my perspective.

  4. my old building had an entire floor rented to a 3rd party “corporate rental” business, ended up being treated like a hotel/air B&B. It sucked, lobby was packed with suitcases, front desk and pool was overwhelmed with people that didn’t give a crap about the place, and units were overcrowded (6 people for a one bedroom!!).

    Trust me, you don’t want this in your building. There’s a reason why its pretty much illegal in NYC. We have enough hotels in JC, and the PATH is at capacity.

    • Rich, in a perfect world everybody would live at least two hundred yards away from each other. An alcoholic crackhead used to live next to me on my left. For years him and his brother would be screaming their lungs out at 4am. On my right lives a noisy asshole who blasts shitty music day and night. Two doors down are
      section 8 basement potheads. Their skunky shit is so strong you could get contact high sitting on your porch. Across from my backyard lived a tribe of Dominicans who started their parties outside at 5pm on Fridays and ended them at 9pm on Sunday. None of these assholes are Air B’n’B renters. If noise is really an issue the city would have ban or deport half the Hispanic population.

    • RCH: We have full price tenants on our block who behave the same: heaps of trash, noisy all the time, encouraging vermin etc with their junk and clearly not interested in our neighborhood’s well being. Call the city, inspectors, animal control….routinely….tickets issued/paid/return to START. The landlord is doesn’t care and won’t respond to anyone. Our issue and yours have nothing to do with short term rentals and everything to do with a city government that can’t manage it’s routine business. Personally, I think the council is beyond dumb to give up the tax revenue and billions that airbnb folks spend in our town.

    • I agree RCH- I’m the last rental floor- out of 3, and the same structure next door same owner ( who does not live on site) has allowed the structure to entirely become a HOTEL now. Not what I signed a lease for. I”m not against abnb if your an owner on site and want to make some “extra” cash, but I’m more in support of long term good neighbors.
      #abnbregulations #jc #community #neighborhoods #notelhotel #regulateabnb

  5. If it was such a problem in your building, what prevented your condo board from implementing rules/regulations or banning the practice altogether? I’m not trying to be argumentative, genuinely trying to figure it out. I hear these ad hoc complaints but this seems to be an issue for a condo board to sort out not city-wide legislation. My building has banned short-term lettings.

  6. There is definitely a surplus of “luxury rentals” and luck of affordable housing, especially downtown. However, the non-affordabilty of rentals in Jersey City is certainly not due to the Airbnb short terms rentals but to the fact that only “luxury rentals” building are being built. No affordable housing planned as far as I know. The complains of noise code is in my opinion unsubstantiated. There is no way that families and tourists who mostly come to go visit New York City, come back to JC after a busy day in Manhattan and start to act wild; most probably they are so tired from their sightseeing that they just need quiet time and rest, at least that’s my experience with family members that come and visit me regularly from Europe. As far as the trash code violation goes, as a home owners I got 2 violations from the division of sanitation because my tenants, who are long term and have lived there for years, did not put out the trash the right way. therefore, I would presume that if I had an airbnb there, I would be more vigilant since I would assume that my guests need more supervision. I believe the bottom line is that all this big opposition and rumor spreading against Airbnb is fueled by the hotel lobby.

    • Well you would be mistaken. Hosts book stag parties, prom parties and all night drinking sessions on my street.

  7. Very happy to see Airbnb regulations. Those of us in condo buildings have no security (new people with keys every day) and properties in downtown now list their Airbnb income potential on their sale listings. That said, the regulations as stated need serious tweaking. Great that we’re starting the conversation!

    • Gary- What do you mean “no security?” People have been living in hotels all over the world since forever with
      “new people” coming and going on a daily basis. Again this seems to be another very disingenuous argument.
      I can’t say for sure but because nobody knows exactly the ratio of permanent residents vs non-permanent who are nuisance tenants. But I can tell there are tons of homes where the permanent resident has complained about noisy kids, loud music and parties at all hours, smoke/ weed issues, alcoholics and people with mental problems carrying on, dogs barking, street trash, piles of dog shit and on and on.

      The easy solution would be to make it plain to any renter or buyer that there is an Air B ‘n’ B rental in the building and one could make decision to live there or not. How about that female cop who shot some guy dead in his own apt a few months ago. Should cops not be allowed to live in condos? Talk about security. How’s that for a nuisance tenant?

  8. Affordable housing is not a market phenomenon. It has to be forced. People will always want to get top dollar. That’s just capitalism. To produce affordable housing in great supply you have to force it. Some percentage of all units built downtown have to be affordable, creation of a trust fund for affordable housing development paid by luxury developers, density and height bonus for more affordable units. There are lots of solutions going back to the Mount Laurel decisions and COAH. A couple of hundred Airbnb units are not the issue and this is a knee jerk “do something quick I want to be governor or senator” kind of response. Either that or some hotel developer is all a twist because they can’t keep their insanely overpriced hotels full. Just doesn’t make sense. As with all things, “cui bono?” Who benefits?

    • Nancy- Very succinctly put. This is more about the Hotel Industry feeling put out by the competition (Air B’nB) combined political under the table hand jobs. That notion that permanent citizens are perfect residents is ridiculous.

      Noteworthy is that a Federal judge has ruled that municipalities can not access a homeowners records of who is coming and going. Everyone should be concerned about such an outrageous overreach by city governments.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here