Short-term rentals. Under a new law — Local Law 18 — that goes into effect on Jan. 9, anyone seeking to rent out housing for fewer than 30 consecutive days in New York City will be required to register with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement and obtain a registration number. Booking services such as Airbnb and Vrbo will be prohibited from processing transactions for unregistered short-term rentals.
Cat-and-mouse game. “In the past,” says Stuart Saft, a partner at the law firm Holland & Knight and the chairman of the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums, “board members would scour web listings trying to detect illegal short-term rentals in their buildings. If a shareholder or unit-owner used the apartment as a hotel we would have to write to Airbnb or some other service and point out that the renter can’t live there without the consent of the board. And we would prevent the renter from entering the building. It was time-consuming and costly.”
Free to choose. Under the new law, residents will be required to certify that they are the legal owner or tenant, to certify that hosting does not violate the terms of their lease or the law, and to provide the URL for any listings. The city will create a “prohibited buildings list” where short-term rentals are forbidden. “In essence,” Saft says, “co-ops and condos can opt out of the system.”
Local Law 18 does not change the underlying rules governing short-term rentals. In buildings with three or more units, it remains illegal to rent housing for fewer than 30 days if the owner or lease-holder is not present during the entire rental period.
A sense of relief. Dennis DePaola, an executive vice president at Orsid New York, predicts that the vast majority of the 200 co-ops and condos in the management company’s portfolio will do just that. “This law has been a long time coming, and our clients welcome it,” he says. “Critics feel it’s a law for the rich, but residents of all classes don’t want to endure living next to a hotel room.” And the law has teeth: fines can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or three times the revenue from illegal rentals.