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NYC ban on short-term rentals under 30 days | Don't Ever Look Back

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NYC ban on short-term rentals under 30 days

NYC ban on short-term rentals under 30 days

Recently we discovered that a law was passed which makes it illegal to rent out New York City apartments for periods of less than 30 days, effective 1 May 2011. Apparently this issue has been getting national media attention across the United States, but as Australian citizens we hadn’t heard of this ban until now. As travelers who planned to spend 2-3 weeks in New York in summer next year, this decision hurts a lot – and apparently other cities are considering following suit!

Consider these NYC facts:

  • The average daily room rate of a NYC hotel is $208.06 (Source: Hotel News Resource). However as it’s likely to be peak or shoulder season when we visit, we expect this cost to be much higher.
  • Quick research shows that a private room with shared bathroom in a centrally-located hostel starts at $115 for Summer 2011.

Since we were planning to rent out an entire studio apartment for well under $100/night with a private kitchen, private bathroom and much more space, this decision will have a significant impact on our plans. Not only will it affect our budget, it will also affect how we travel.

While we can hope and pray all we like that this ban is overturned before then, we will need to come up with a contingency plan (or two) on the assumption that it won’t. We brainstormed some ideas and here are the three which we think are the most realistic.

Stay in a Hostel

When people think budget accommodation, they often think hostels – and this seems to be our most likely option. A hostel in New York City would be centrally located and the extra cost wouldn’t hurt our budget too much. It would also give us the opportunity to meet fellow travelers which would be fantastic in a big city, plus we would have the privacy of our own room.

The only downside is that it seems some of the higher rated hostels have a 2 week stay limit during peak season, meaning we may need to stay in 2 separate hostels during our time in NYC.

Couchsurf/Rent a Single Room Instead

We’re big fans of the Couchsurfing concept, but to couchsurf for a couple of weeks is borderline on freeloading. Renting a single room hasn’t been made illegal in the short-term rental ban and would be ideal for our budget – we could rent a private room for slightly less than renting an entire apartment and enjoy interacting with a local resident on a daily basis.

However, we also value our privacy and the ability to come in and out whenever we want. This might be a negligible concern and obviously we are paying for the room, but for some reason have the impression we would be stepping on the toes of our host during our stay.

Extend our NYC Stay to 30+ Days

While we’re sure we could easily spend over 4 weeks in New York City and its surrounds, this is the least likely of the 3 options due to the extra cost involved. 10 more nights of accommodation and the cost of food/transport/activities would probably blow our budget out of the water. However, it’s still a very tempting option as we’d be able to call the city home for a month and be able to do things on our own terms.

Two other options we may also consider are to shorten our stay and stay in a basic hotel, or stay in Newark for 2-3 weeks and catch the train across whenever we needed to.

Obviously a lot more research is required before we make a final decision, but at this stage it looks like we’ll be choosing between staying in a hostel and renting out a single room. If any of our readers are from New York City or understand this law a bit better than we do, please provide your suggestions in the comments and help make deciding our Plan B easier!

Flickr Photo: acmace


  1. Posted November 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    This law is certainly upsetting. I wonder if there is a loophole. Perhaps you don’t rent a room, but maybe you are paid to be a housesitter and “watch over” the apartment. Or maybe you are paid to exercise the gaskets on the toilet a few times a day. Whether you sleep in the apartment or not is your decision!

    • Posted November 3, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      Haha I like your thinking.. that would be a nice and easy way to make a little extra income while we’re on the road.

      They say that the short-term rental market will just go underground, hopefully there’s a deep dark corner of the travel blogging community that will be able to hook us up when the time comes!

  2. Posted November 4, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    “Renting a room” doesn’t have to be the worst thing ever. I spent the summer in the city (back in 2004) and found an awesome sublet on the UWS. Had my own key, paid rent and my apartment-mates were hardly ever home!! In fact, my birthday weekend, no one was there and I had the whole place to myself (which was great because I had friends in from out of town and we slept EVERYWHERE)!

    Maybe look into sublets? Don’t know how this ban will effect that. Craigslist is a goldmine for sublets, FYI.

    Good luck!
    Rebecca recently posted..2008 Election While Overseas

    • Posted November 4, 2010 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      That sounds awesome – there are a lot of good reviews for people who rent out rooms so it’s definitely a possibility for us. We will just need to do a bit more research I guess to find a good housemate in a good location.

      I think the ban is focused primarily on stopping these sublets but whether this will wipe them off sites like Craiglist we won’t know until after May next year.

      Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  3. Posted November 5, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    i think your safest bet will be renting a room, it sucks about the apartment ban. a room is like your own appartment but less convenient and less fun. couch surfing is not an option for that period length

  4. Posted November 8, 2010 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    The news is upsetting for travelers and vacation rental businesses like ours! There is yet another option though: serviced apartments or aparthotels. They are basically apartment buildings for short-term rental and have a concierge. They are hugely popular in Asia but if you do a google search on “NY aparthotels” you might find a few. Have a great trip!

  5. Posted January 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    As an NYC resident, I can tell you that a large number of people are in apartment arrangements that aren’t entirely legal. As Rebecca suggested, look into Sublets on CraigsList. Those will not be affected by this law at all for the simple fact that they sort of subvert the law to begin with. When you sublet, you aren’t going on the lease. In fact, often times the landlord isn’t even aware of the arrangement. So if you’re looking at staying in NYC for a month, then I’d highly suggest a sublet as a way to save money, especially if you’re willing to look at cheaper neighborhoods (generally, farther away from Manhattan, though I live in Harlem, which is part of Manhattan, just a less desireable part).

    Regarding CouchSurfing, it’s a truly incredible experience. What you could do is spread your time over multiple hosts so you’re not imposing. Stay with someone for a few days or even a week and then moving on. However, I have heard that finding a couch in NYC can be extremely difficult…
    Aaron recently posted..2010′s Weirdest Travel Experiences

    • Posted January 3, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink

      Hey Aaron, thanks for taking the time to leave this comment.

      We’ll definitely look into finding a sublet – but we’re probably leaning more at this stage to renting a room using Airbnb. This way we can be centrally located, save on the cost and also have a local’s knowledge to rely on. Similar to CouchSurfing, but a lot more benefits (which translates into cost at the end of the day). What are your thoughts about this option?

      CouchSurfing is probably something we’ll use more in Europe – as you say, it’s probably going to be extremely difficult finding a good couch in NYC, particularly with few positive reviews on our CS profile.

  6. Posted January 3, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Airbnb does not necessarily mean you’ll end up in a more central location. Anthony & Elise from Positive World Travel are here now doing Airbnb for a good deal of money pretty far out in Brooklyn.

    Subletting your own place would almost definitely save you money and you’d be surprised how relatively affordable NYC can be IF you have roommates. And there are plenty of affordable neighborhoods that are close to being centrally located (I live in Harlem and can be in Times Square in less than 15 minutes via the Subway).

    That said, trying to find apartments in NYC is not for the lighthearted. There are a lot of people out there and apartments are a very hot commodity. You usually have to be available to visit the places in person too, as most people will not sublet to someone who they have not met in person before.

    One possibility is that you could CouchSurf or Airbnb for a week or so while you try to find a sublet. Doing so though would be a fairly time consuming process, taking away from your time to experience the city. But if you’re gonna be here for a month. And apartment hunting is a VERY New Yorker thing to do…

    When are you planning on coming anyways? There are usually more availabilities in the summer (like May-August/September) while the universities are all on break.
    Aaron recently posted..Visitors Guide to NYC by Subway

    • Posted January 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Aaron – it’s so helpful getting a local’s knowledge.

      You’ve definitely given us plenty to think about, I guess we’ll do a bit more research once we hit the USA and work out our best option. Hopefully a month in NYC will be enough?

      We’re not exactly sure when we’re coming, we’ll probably be on the west coast in late July/early August and it could take anywhere from 2-6 months for us to get across to the other side. Time will tell.

      Thanks again for all your help.

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