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How Do NY’s Short-Term Rental Laws Affect Your Summer Airbnb?

Summer brings a significant number of tourists to New York City and its boroughs. More visitors are finding their way to areas such as Brooklyn, Long Island, Williamsburg, Rutherford, and Yonkers thanks to the popular rental website Airbnb. However, this is the first summer New Yorkers are renting their real estate under the state’s ban on certain short-term rentals in residential property.

Is the law affecting individuals in NYC, Long Island, and surrounding areas in New York, and how can you put your place up on the website without facing fines?

What Does New York’s New Law Say About Airbnb?

Back in October 2016 the New York legislature passed a law that made it a crime to list an apartment located in a multifamily building for short-term rental when the owner is not present. Prior to the October law, it was already a crime to actually provide short-term rentals in these circumstances under the New York State Multiple Dwellings Law, but the more recent changes made simply listing these properties criminal activity. Short-term rentals are those for less than 30 days.

After the law was passed, AirBnb brought a lawsuit against the state, arguing there was ambiguity in the new regulations. Specifically, the company wanted clarity whether the regulations affected only individuals who “hosted” properties on Airbnb or the website was also at risk. When the legislature agreed not to prosecute Airbnb for individuals who listed apartments illegally on the website, the company dropped the lawsuit.

This left property owners in NYC, Brooklyn, and Long Island to decide for themselves if listing their property violated the law.

Fines and Consequences Enforced in NYC

New York sees its share of tourists all year long, and in February 2017 two individuals were fined for listing apartment properties on Airbnb. These violations, one in Brooklyn and the other on the Upper West Side, warranted a $1,000 fine per property. If these violators continue listing and renting properties, the fines will increase.

At first the government’s actions in February caused some concern for Airbnb hosts, but over time it has done little to curb the number of Long Island properties available on Airbnb. The New York attorney general has since said that he believes most properties on Airbnb are illegal. As high season ascends on New York City, it is possible the government will look to crack down on those who violate the newer law.

Hurdles to Legal Listing Your Apartment

If your building has more than three units it is considered a multifamily dwelling. This means rentals for less than 30 days the host must be present. Under Airbnb’s option to rent a private room, rather than entire property, individuals may be able to list part of their apartment or space.

As well, there are zoning restrictions and tax requirements for individuals who list their apartments on a short-term or transient basis. Not adhering to local zoning ordinances can mean additional fines or eviction. As well, there are consequences for failing to properly claim state and federal taxes on the income.

However, many people in Long Island, and elsewhere in New York, face an additional different hurdle to renting on AirBnB; their lease may restrict subletting of any type or duration without the landlord’s permission. Even listing a room on AirBnB or similar booking websites could violate this contractual provision.

If you are uncertain whether your Airbnb listing violates the New York Multiple Dwellings Law, or any other restriction on short-term rentals, it is best to speak with a qualified real estate lawyer in Long Island.

Contact The Law Office of Sami Perez

The Law Office of Sami Perez is located in Long Island and familiar with questions regarding New York’s leasing and landlord/tenant law. Our office can assist with questions regarding short-term rentals, disputes with landlords, or dealing with difficult tenants, in both commercial and residential property. Contact our office at (631)-594-3077.


The information in this blog post (“Post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this Post should be construed as legal advice from The Law Office of Samilde Perez or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter.