• Fashion icon Audrey Smaltz listens during a interview in her rooftop penthouse at the Branson building, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in New York. Smaltz, who is being pressured to move, is a permanent tenant in the building where the city is suing the landlord, saying a swath of the apartments were being used as hotel rooms. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Fashion icon Audrey Smaltz listens during a interview in her rooftop penthouse at the Branson building, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in New York. Smaltz, who is being pressured to move, is a permanent tenant in the building where the city is suing the ... landlord, saying a swath of the apartments were being used as hotel rooms. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (The Associated Press)

  • Fashion icon Audrey Smaltz stands outside the doorway of her rooftop penthouse at the Branson building, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in New York.  Smaltz, who is a permanent tenant in the building where the city is suing the landlord for using apartments as hotel rooms, says she was petrified to find an errant tourist one night, staring in her window.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Fashion icon Audrey Smaltz stands outside the doorway of her rooftop penthouse at the Branson building, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, in New York. Smaltz, who is a permanent tenant in the building where the city is suing the landlord for using apartments ... as hotel rooms, says she was petrified to find an errant tourist one night, staring in her window. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (The Associated Press)

  • Traffic passes the Branson building on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in New York.  The city is suing the landlords of the Branson building, saying a swath of the apartments were being used as hotel rooms.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Traffic passes the Branson building on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in New York. The city is suing the landlords of the Branson building, saying a swath of the apartments were being used as hotel rooms. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (The Associated Press)

Fighting home-as-hotel rentals, an NYC task force knocks on doors, follows digital trails

Industries Associated Press

From an office by the Brooklyn Bridge, a specialized team of investigators tackles a fast-growing concern in New York City: apartments being rented like hotel rooms.

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Building and fire inspectors, police, lawyers, city tax specialists and others combine door-knocking, digital sleuthing and occasional video surveillance. It's an unusual approach to an issue arising around the country as Airbnb and other websites spark a short-term rental boom.

The New York Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement has cited over 7,000 fire and building code violations, shut down hundreds of short-term apartments and sued several landlords over the last nine years.

Some lawmakers want to triple the illegal-hotel investigation staff. The rentals are often illegal in the city, and officials say they're safety risks.

Some short-term rental proponents call the city's tactics heavy-handed.