NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The New York City Council announced plans to stiffen fines to try to further crack down on illegal hotels.
At a news conference outside City Hall on Wednesday, housing advocates and angry tenants joined some city council members to speak out against the increase in illegal hotels popping up in neighborhoods all across the city.
WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reports
"They were in overcrowded conditions, they'd put four and five people in a very, very small room," an Upper West Side resident told WCBS 880's Marla Diamond.
Some residents said their building's landlord illegally converted some apartment for short-term rentals.
"People coming into my apartment all hours of the day and night, had irate hotel guests yelling at me over the service," said Lower East Side resident Charles Selig.
The city has been cracking down on the illegal conversions since a state law was passed last year. But the city council has plans to increase the fines on illegal hotel landlords to try to run the practice out of business.
The City Council measure would increase the fines to up to $25,000 for landlords with multiple illegal units.
The state law was sponsored by New York State Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who represents parts of Manhattan's West Side.
"But the fines need to be much higher so that they are not just an annoying cost of doing business," Gottfried said at the news conference.
Housing advocates said the illegal hotels take away affordable housing options for residents, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the illegal hotels are dangerous.
"With no real egress for people if there was a fire. No fire signs, no appropriate regulations," Quinn said.
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, said she's gotten complaints that the illegal hotels are unsanitary.
"People saying to me 'Gale, how did you know about bed bugs so early before anybody else?' Well, the bad news is I heard it from the tourists and then I heard from the permanent tenants," Brewer said.
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