This L.A. Couple's Vacation Horror Story Sheds Light on an NYC Nightmare Scenario

When lodging goes seriously wrong.

A Los Angeles married couple was planning to have a fun and carefree holiday weekend in New York City — but thanks to some major drama with their lodging plans, it didn’t work out that way. At. All.

According to the New York Post, 63-year-old talent agent Annette van Duren and her 73-year-old producer husband Alan Sacks booked a 10-day stay in the NYC neighborhood of Chelsea. Their Airbnb studio apartment was going to cost them a little over $2,000 — or about $170 per night plus extras. Reasonable so far for a vacay in an expensive city.

But on the same day they actually booked — unbeknownst to them — New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that would impose big fines for hosts who post short-term rentals on the sharing site. It's also long been illegal to rent out whole apartments for short-term stays in the city.

“I don’t know anything about New York City short-term-housing laws. I live in Los Angeles,” said van Duren. 

On the first day of their trip, the couple got an email from their stranger host specifying that they should act as if they were staying with friends. But right away a neighbor confronted them in the building — and he was pissed. He badgered them about who they were and where they were going. When they replied honestly, he told them, “What you’re doing is illegal. If you don’t leave immediately, I’m calling the police. I’ll knock on your door all night long and let other tenants know you are here illegally if you don’t leave now,” according to the Post report.

Well, after the couple’s first night, the host told them they had to leave immediately. Airbnb refunded the vacationers and offered to put them up in another Airbnb or find them a hotel, at the max cost of $150 a night. Naturally, after their bad Airbnb experience, they preferred a hotel. But it turned out they were out $809 for the first night of their stay alone…. at the Holiday Inn! 

Needless to say, it was not the relaxed trip they had planned, thanks to New York City regulations the couple claimed to know nothing about. So while Airbnb might work for lots of folks — including investor Ashton Kutcher who even said it helped him get through his divorce with Demi Moore — it isn’t for everyone. Nor for every city around the globe.

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