The Pitfalls Of Short Term Rental In New York City



Marie, an ad exec who earned $15,000 last year via Airbnb, says that renting out her New York apartment is “currency in a really tight economy.” And there are many more New Yorkers willing to take advantage of this growth industry. 

There’s a whole online universe of apartment-swapping, of sublets, of short-term rentals, promulgated by firms like VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owners) and Airbnb.com. As of November 2011, there were 8,324 properties in the New York area on Airbnb. Homeaway.com had 1,221 and Craigslist, at least one thousand. 

Short term rental in other people’s apartments in pricey New York City may seem like a logical alternative. But is it legal?

Yes! It is illegal!

As it turns out, renting out an apartment without a lease is illegal in New York City. In Spring 2011, a law went into effect that bans the rental of New York City apartments for fewer than 30 days, providing what the mayor’s office described as “a clear definition of what constitutes transient and permanent occupancy.” 

The Legislation hasn’t changed behavior. 

“The legislation hasn’t changed behavior,” says Paul Gottsegen, president of Halstead Management Company, adding that his firm continues to field complaints from neighbors about illegal renters. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the city has even become well known for scammers who rent out non-existent apartments, or ones that are owned by someone else.

Managing agents are now prowling websites to find listings in their buildings, and they’re plentiful. Cease-and-desist letters are most management companies’ first course of action, and evictions can and do follow. Still, with so many tourists elbowing for less expensive accommodations, many New Yorkers are going to continue marketing their best asset. 

Rental companies are urging travelers to comply with regulations. 

An Airbnb spokesperson says that the site’s terms of service demand that users comply with the law. A representative from Homeaway.com says that their site encourages owners to educate themselves on the individual rules and regulations that may apply to their city.

What Are Your Alternatives?

While rental apartment accommodation is a fine alternative to hotels in most other world cities, it is illegal in NYC. Here are some viable alternatives:

*B&B lodgings are perfectly legal, so try BedandBreakfast.com. They have plenty of options at better prices than hotels.

* Compare hotel ‘Specials’ prices between hotel booking sites such as Expedia.com, Booking.com, Wotif.com, Agoda.com and Zuji.com. There are variations in their pricing that you can take advantage of.

* Try apartment style hotels like Radio City Apartments, Hotel Beacon, the Salisbury Hotel and the Milburn Hotel.

* Brooklyn offers less expensive bed and breakfast accommodation, and if your lodging is close to a subway station, Manhattan will only be a short ride away.

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