New York City Deputies Confiscate Vans Allegedly Used As Airbnb Rentals


Deputies from the New York City Sheriff’s Office got involved in the dregs of Manhattan vacation rentals last week when they confiscated seven vans allegedly being used as Airbnb rentals.

One van was reportedly advertised as a city “glamping” experience for just under $100 a night.

A customer who’d stayed in one of the vans said his accommodations smelled and that he’d “never do it again.”

A tweet from the sheriff’s office Saturday said that road patrol deputies were “busy this week impounding seven alleged fraudulent and illegally registered vans being used as Airbnb rentals on various streets in Manhattan.”

Sheriff's Road Patrol Deputies were busy this week impounding seven alleged fraudulent and illegally registered vans being used as Airbnb rentals on various streets in Manhattan. 🛑🚦🚔 pic.twitter.com/rBZ1TBZ2xt

— NYC SHERIFF (@NYCSHERIFF) September 25, 2021

An Airbnb listing for one of the vans, which has since been removed from the site, gushed: “Glamp in a spacious camper Van in NYC!” The van was listed as being able to accommodate up to three people, the New York Post reports. The vans were allegedly being used as Airbnb rentals for at least two years.

Five of the vans were towed away in Manhattan’s East Village. Their registrations and New Jersey plates were long expired, with some going back as far as 2000, sources told the Post.

An investigation launched by the sheriff’s office and the NYPD Document Fraud Unit discovered an “operation of alleged fraudulent and illegally registered vehicles being used as Airbnb rentals on various streets in Manhattan,” Sheriff Joseph Fucito told the Post.

Some critics on Twitter complained that Airbnb should police its listings better.

A spokesperson for Airbnb told HuffPost that both the “host and listings in question are no longer active on the Airbnb platform.”

In June 2020, Airbnb reached a “robust information-sharing agreement with New York City, and subsequently began complying with the city’s short-term rental data reporting law, which regularly provides the City with the insights it needs to effectively regulate short-term rentals,” the spokesperson said. “Enforcement of the law is the responsibility of the city, and it has the data needed to do so — in this case, likely for months.”

Journalist and videographer Uptin Saiidi did a video review of his stay last month in what appears to be one of the now-impounded vans.

“Of course I got excited when I saw an Airbnb listing for just $97 per night,” Saiidi says in his video. “But as they say, if it’s too good to be true, it definitely is.”

He added from inside the van: “It’s so weird. I still don’t know if this is even legal to sleep in a van in New York City.” He also had “no idea” where to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The Airbnb host suggested that he shower at a local pool, and use a nearby Starbucks or bar bathroom.

He also got a parking ticket. Very glam, indeed.