With New York City being such a major tourist destination, travelers often need to book their hotel stays weeks or even months in advance when planning a visit to the Big Apple. Even still, hotel availability can be limited—particularly in high demand neighborhoods. As a result, more travelers are beginning to turn to home-sharing services like Airbnb to find lodging for their trips to NYC.
For many travelers, staying in an Airbnb also provides a more authentic experience; what better way to get a true taste of the city than to stay in a genuine New York City apartment? And of course, added benefits (such as having access to a kitchen and other amenities) can make staying in an NYC Airbnb more appealing than staying in a traditional hotel.
If you currently live in New York City, you could potentially begin taking advantage of this high demand for vacation rentals by renting out your own space on Airbnb. Before you do, however, you’ll want to educate yourself on the numerous laws and regulations that are in place regarding Airbnb rentals in New York City. It may also be helpful to carefully weigh the pros and cons of becoming an Airbnb host before you commit so you can be sure this venture is right for you.
Pros and Cons of Airbnb Hosting in NYC
Becoming an Airbnb host is a major decision, so it’s not one you’ll want to take lightly. There are plenty of advantages to becoming a host, as well as a couple of possible drawbacks to consider before you get started.
Advantages of Airbnb Hosting in NYC
With such a high demand for short-term rentals in New York City, the biggest advantage for many Airbnb hosts is the additional income you can bring in by renting out a part of your home. This can be a great way to offset some of your monthly bills, such as rent/mortgage and utilities. Airbnb hosting is also very flexible, allowing you to choose when (and when not) to rent your space out. Some hosts choose to maximize their profits by renting out their space year-round, whereas others may choose to only list their properties for rent during peak times of the travel season.
Being an Airbnb host can also be a great way to meet new people and help host them while they stay in NYC. If you know a lot about the area, you can make recommendations on the best places to eat, shop, and explore in your neighborhood. If this sounds like something that would be rewarding to you, then you might make a great Airbnb host.
Potential Drawbacks of Airbnb Hosting in NYC
What some people don’t realize when they get started as an Airbnb host is that it can be quite time consuming to find and communicate with prospective renters. You’ll need to be available to answer questions about your property and get your space ready for guests. And of course, there’s always the “unknown” factor of opening your home up to somebody you don’t know. It’s a good idea to have a renter’s insurance or home insurance policy in place to be safe.
Many major cities, including NYC, are also beginning to adopt strict laws and regulations regarding Airbnb rentals. If you’re not careful, you could end up facing hefty fines and penalties as an Airbnb host.
Understanding NYC’s Regulations on Airbnb Rentals
New York City’s regulations on Airbnb rentals are somewhat complex, and laws can vary based on whether you live in a rental or own your own home. Furthermore, NYC is one of several major cities that have laws against unhosted rentals—meaning rentals where you (the renter/owner) are not present during the guest’s stay.
One of the most important things to remember is that in NYC, Airbnb rentals are permitted for any duration as long as the rental is hosted. This means you’ll be present during the majority of the guest’s stay and the guest will have access to all parts of the unit (kitchen, laundry spaces, common areas, etc.).
If You Rent in a Multiple-Dwelling Unit
If you’re a renter in a multiple-dwelling unit (a building with three or more rental units), then unhosted rentals are not permitted for any period of fewer than 30 days. In other words, you cannot simply rent out your apartment while you’re away for a week on vacation.
If You Own a Home or Condominium
What if you’re not renting but actually own your home or condominium? The good news is that if you own a single-family home in NYC (which is quite rare), you can rent your space out as you wish regardless of the length of the rental or whether or not you’ll be home for its entirety. The only exception to this would be a situation where your home has a zoning restriction in place that prevents you from renting it out. This isn’t very common, but it’s still something you’ll want to look into before you get started as an Airbnb host. You can do this by pulling up a copy of your home’s Certificate of Occupancy on the city’s website.
If you own a condominium, things can get a bit more complicated. If your condo is located inside a multiple-dwelling unit, you still won’t be permitted to allow unhosted rentals of less than 30 days. For hosted rentals, you’ll want to defer to your HOA’s bylaws to make sure there aren’t any regulations against short-term rentals. It is not uncommon for HOAs to explicitly prohibit short-term rentals within their units.
What About Rent-Stabilized Units?
If you live inside a rent-stabilized unit, be sure to check your lease agreement. There’s a good chance there are rules against renting your space out short-term. Furthermore, there may be actual laws in place regarding making any type of profit off renting out your space in a rent-controlled building, so it’s probably best to avoid this issue altogether. You may be better off finding a roommate to move into your space and split rent/utilities with you instead.
Potential Fines and Penalties
These regulations and laws on Airbnb rentals in NYC may seem strict, but they’re in place for good reason. When Airbnb was launched, it was meant to simply be used as a home-sharing service. In major cities, however, more investors began taking advantage of this service by buying out properties and renting them out unhosted. This, in turn, caused a lot of price surging that NYC is trying to avoid by placing limits on unhosted rentals altogether.
Whether you agree with these laws or not, you’ll need to abide by them in order to avoid hefty fines and penalties. Even advertising an illegal rental can result in a fine of up to $7,500—and actually going through with an illegal rental could set you back up to $2,500 for every day you rented out your space illegally.
Ready to Get Started as an Airbnb Host in NYC?
If you’re still interested in becoming an Airbnb host, there are a few tips you can follow to make the most of your experience.
Keep Up With Changes in Laws/Regulations
Perhaps the most important thing is to stay up-to-date on changing laws regarding short-term rentals in New York City. These laws are subject to change at any time, and it’s your responsibility as a host to stay on top of these changes as they occur.
Price Your Rental Appropriately
Don’t just make a guess at how much your space will rent for; be sure to consider important factors such as your location, amenities included, and the prices of similar rentals in your area. The time of year may also affect pricing, as you may be able to charge more during the busy holiday travel season in NYC.
Set Clear “House Rules” for Guests
Come up with a set of “house rules” for your guests regarding noise levels, pets, smoking, and other items before you list your NYC Airbnb rental. Be sure that your guests receive a copy of these rules and that they’re posted somewhere accessible within your space; this will help reduce the chances of problems with your guests.
Have a Team of Pros You Can Trust
Don’t underestimate how time-consuming it can be to prepare your space for guests (and clean up after them). If you want great reviews on Airbnb, you’ll want to make sure your space is in the best shape possible. This is where having a professional maid service can make all the difference. Our team at home cleaning nyc offers a wide range of cleaning services to suit your needs—including turnaround service for Airbnb rentals. Let us take some of the burdens off your plate while providing your guests with a sparkling clean rental.
Becoming an Airbnb host in NYC comes with some special responsibility, but it’s something that many people find rewarding. Just be sure to stay on top of these ever-changing laws regarding short-term rentals to avoid fines!