Sleeping Around: Short-Term Rentals



As an attempt to shed light into the often-polarizing issue of short-term rentals, and to find practical strategies forward to balance interests, CHPC undertook a research project that covered four themes of analysis: the problems that short-term rentals cause for housing; what we know (and mostly don’t know) about short-term rentals in New York City; a guide to current laws that regulate short-term rentals in New York City; recommendations for a policy path forward.


Cities around the world are debating the impact of short-term rentals on their housing markets and wrestling with public policy to deal with them. One of the biggest difficulties is that the characteristics of short-term rentals vary widely. They can occur in a detached house or in a building with multiple apartments. The rental can include an entire housing unit or just a spare room. The rental can take place year-round as a commercial venture or just on the occasional weekend when the primary resident is away. The host might own the unit or be a tenant who sublets it. In New York, different ownership and tenancy regimes—such as a condos, co-ops, or rent-stabilization—add additional complexity to short-term rentals.

As the number of short-term rentals in residential buildings has grown, New York’s policy approach has been to impose stricter rules and harsher penalties. In 2011, New York State made illegal almost all short-term rentals that take place in an apartment without the primary resident being present. In October 2016, a new State law enabled the City to fine anyone who advertises these illegal rentals.

These laws have not managed to abate the rise of short-term rentals. Airbnb, one of the leading facilitators of short-term rentals, lists 45,983 rentals in New York City, of which more than half are for units where the primary resident will be absent during the rental. The demand from visitors to New York City for alternative accommodations to hotels remains strong and is a powerful incentive for New Yorkers to offer housing units as short-term rentals. Regulations that do not take this powerful demand into account, or are simply too broad to be enforceable, are ineffective at addressing the most egregious impacts of short-term rentals on housing.

CHPC’s research on short-term rentals covered four themes of analysis:

  1. The problems that short-term rentals cause for housing;
  2. What we know (and mostly don’t know) about short-term rentals in New York City;
  3. A guide to current laws that regulate short-term rentals in New York City;
  4. Recommendations for a policy path forward.


Sleeping Around: Short-Term Rentals and Housing in New York City

In Sleeping Around CHPC explores the relationship between short-term rentals and housing in New York City. The study discusses how short-term rentals affect New York’s housing market and proposes policy reforms that could allow this popular practice to continue while mitigating its negative impacts on housing. The report also explores the data that is available (and mostly unavailable) about short-term rentals and includes a guide, current as of March 2017, to the different laws that regulate short-term rentals in New York City.

Our policy proposals are intended to facilitate a discussion on specific ways how policy can be improved, and are intended to address three major impacts that short-term rentals can have on housing:

  1. Housing units are taken off the housing market to be used as short-term rentals, decreasing the supply of housing;
  2. Quality of life in buildings (and neighborhoods) is altered because the rights and responsibilities of owners and tenants are upended;
  3. There is substantial non-compliance with leases, by-laws and regulatory agreements, which undermines legal protections.

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