Under existing law, most apartments can only be rented for less than 30 days if the owner or primary renter is present, which effectively outlaws many short-term rentals. However, there is evidence that thousands of units are rented contravening the ban.

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 Yorks 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.

We propose amending the Multiple Dwelling Law to create a licensing system for short-term rentals which would empower the City to ensure that 1) residential units are not removed from the housing market; 2) the owner of the building consents to the short-term rental; and 3) the short-term rental does not compromise quality of life or fire safety in a building. For a licensing system to have a chance of success, online platforms that facilitate short-term rentals will need to be held accountable for guaranteeing that only licensed rentals are advertised on their sites.

We also propose that the City explore ways of collecting objective data to better understand short-term rentals. This could be done as part of the Housing and Vacancy Survey or through a special survey on the issue. We also encourage legislative efforts to allow the safe and legal development of bed & breakfasts and hostels, which could absorb some of the demand for short-term accommodation.

These proposals would allow New Yorkers to earn money from short-term rentals while also eliminating the practices that have a negative impact for housing, especially the removal of residential units from the housing market. Policymakers would have access to the objective data they need to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation of the impacts of short-term rentals, which would contribute to improving policy. And visitors to New York City would have a broader offer of accommodation, including hostels and bed & breakfasts, which could meet some of the demand currently being met by short-term rentals.

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By Daniel Land Parcerisas and Sarah Watson

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