Huffpost New York

Illegal Hotels In New York City Exposed (VIDEO)

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Perhaps tight-budgeted travelers should just stick to Couch Surfing.

City inspectors are using a new law to raid, document and shutter illegal hotels.

From DNA Info:

The inspections came after a new law took affect May 1 that closed loopholes in the existing code governing short-term rentals.

The measure bans rentals that are less than 30 days and says the use of even one apartment for transients is illegal. Before, a majority of the building had to be occupied by transients in order for that to be the case.

The inspectors documented a number of unsafe conditions, some of which resulted in partial or full vacate orders.

At the New York Hostel 104, on East 105th Street, inspectors discovered an overcrowded building with combustible material throughout the building, the city said.

The International Student Center on West 88th Street was also slapped with a partial vacate order. A worker at the hostel said she thought the company was legal.

"We had a certificate that shows exactly how many people are allowed to stay in each room," said Amy Oechsle. "I feel like big hotels are trying to make all of the guests get out of the hostels and come to their big, expensive hotels."

HuffPost's Matt Sledge reported on the MacDougal Street Synagogue which was served with a partial vacate order for running an "illegal transient hotel."

The owners claimed they had a First Amendment right to expose tourists to "the teachings of tolerance without being subject to the restrictive apartment conversion requirements set forth in the New York City Administrative Code."

WATCH footage from one of the city's raids: