Is it legal to book an Airbnb in NYC? The rules for tourists and visitors
New York vacation rentals is a subject that has been much debated for several years now. Before a first trip to NYC, many of you consider renting a flat in Manhattan or in Brooklyn: convenient and maybe cheaper than a hotel, the advantages of short-term rentals are not lacking!
However, it’s not that simple… Since apartment rentals are very strictly regulated in New York City, it is more than recommended to be familiar with the legislation before doing so. Is renting an Airbnb or an apartment in NYC legal for your vacation or short trip?
Today we’re going to look at what’s legal or illegal for short-term rentals in New York. This way, you can start planning your trip on the best basis 🙂
Rules for renting an Airbnb in New York City
Even though there are many platforms for renting vacation apartments, we all immediately think of Airbnb for our future trips. However, these rental platforms are in the crosshairs of many large cities (including NYC), which have decided to strictly regulate their activities.
They put forward various arguments against the rental platforms: they weaken the hotel industry, they cause nuisances and especially the explosion of rental prices which become unaffordable for locals. New York City has therefore decided to promulgate several laws to regulate short-term rentals & vacation rentals.
So, is it illegal to book an apartment on Airbnb or another platform in New York City?
You will be happy to learn that it is not officially forbidden to book rentals through these platforms. However, in reality, the particularly restrictive reservation conditions make the practice accessible to very few people.
In concrete terms, here are the rules to book an Airbnb in NYC:
➜ If you rent an apartment in New York for less than 30 days (which is the case for most tourists), the owner is obligated to stay on site during your stay. In other words, for all short rentals (less than 30 days), you must rent a homestay (a room in a local’s house/ apartment) in order to be legal and not rent an entire empty flat.
➜ Otherwise, to have the right to rent an entire apartment in New York, for less than 30 days and without the presence of the owner, this flat must be part of a building with less than 3 apartments (i.e. 2 apartments). For example, a house divided into two apartments. In other words, that is something absolutely impossible to find in Manhattan and very difficult to find in the other neighborhoods (Brooklyn, Queens etc…).
➜ In addition, the rented space must not have private/separate access within the owners’ home. It is therefore illegal to rent a private space directly in the owners’ home. The rented space must be part of the owners’ living space.
➜ Finally, if you are lucky enough to travel to New York for more than 30 days, you are authorized to rent an entire apartment without the presence of the owner on site.
⚠️ Good to know: These regulations applies to absolutely all short-term rentals or vacation rentals sites that offer accommodations in NYC. These regulations also apply in all New York City boroughs (i.e.Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island). These rules also apply in Jersey City.
☞ You should also read: How to plan a NYC trip? The complete guide
What are the risks of renting an apartment for less than 30 days in NYC?
It is important to know that the New York City Council has been tightening its Airbnb legislation in recent years. Fines for non-compliance with the current legislation can range from $1,200 to $7,500.
Until today, the justice system seems to focus on the owners who rent these apartments illegally rather than on the tourists who book them.
However, as a tenant, there is still a risk. For example, if residents denounce a owner who is renting illegally, you can simply find yourself homeless overnight during your trip or have your reservation cancelled at the last minute and have to book a new accommodation in a hurry. Last minute prices in New York are not the most affordable and the best accommodations are often booked months in advance!
So, think carefully before taking this risk 🙂
My opinion on short-term rentals in New York City
Personally, I never wanted to take the risk of booking a short-term rental during my trips to NYC because I have never been there for more than 30 days. The only solution would be to find a flat in a building with less than three units, which is almost impossible to find in New York City.
And then, I also like to enjoy the city and its great places to eat, drink and go out. I really don’t have time to waste in an apartment (even for meals)! When you have the most wonderful city in the world waiting for you on the other side of the door, you just want to get out and enjoy it 🙂
Rent an apartment legally in NYC with hotel managed flats
In conclusion, if you are still planning to book a Airbnb flat for a stay of less than 30 days in New York City, you will have to consider other solutions to stay legal. For example :
- Book a homestay
- Book at the hotel or aparthotel
- Find a flat in a building with a maximum of 2 units.
If renting an flat remains a real factor for your stay in New York, I recommend that you look at hotel managed apartments. New York doesn’t really have famous aparthotel chains. However, many traditional hotels do have apartments or studios in addition to their classic rooms. These hotel managed flats/studios are, at the moment, the one and only legal option to enjoy an apartment in New York City.
So, just for you, here are some of the best places in NYC for hotel managed apartments:
➜ Radio City Apartments: With a magical location in the heart of Midtown.
➜ The Harlem Cascades: To feel like at home.
➜ Sonder Battery Park: Brand new, with top-of-the-line services!
And that’s it! I hope you’ve found all the information you need for your Airbnb accommodation booking in New York. If you still have questions about it, feel free to ask them in the comments!