Airbnb is not something new and it has become a consolidated alternative for many people when it comes to accommodation during trips. There are over 4 million hosts on Airbnb worldwide, with over 6 million active listings on the platform, with more than 150 million users globally. Did you know that six guests check into an Airbnb listing every second? It is estimated that Airbnb now holds a market share of over 20% in the vacation rental sector.
While initially, the platform was a way for someone to earn extra income by renting out an empty room or house/apartment for a short period of time, nowadays, the website has become a business opportunity for many people who invest in properties to generate income through rentals. And if previously guests only had the option of traditional hotels, now they can explore a world of possibilities through Airbnb – from homes that seem to have come out of Pinterest, with daily rates as expensive as a resort, to simpler apartments and rooms that ensure a budget alternative for those who don’t want to spend more than they’d like on accommodation.
The truth is: Airbnb has come to revolutionize the lodging market and is not going away anytime soon. However, like any disruptive business, the platform faces some legal barriers in certain locations, including New York City. Additionally, being a “new” kind of accommodation, many people have fears and questions about it. As there are always stories and urban legends around when it comes to the platform and New York, I decided to write this post to clarify everything you need to know about Airbnb in New York City.
What is the controversy surrounding Airbnb?
If you’re confused, let me explain. The confusion surrounding Airbnb in New York is that renting out apartments or entire houses for less than 30 days is illegal in the city. Source here. When this law was approved a few years ago, there was a big controversy – they said that the hotel industry was putting pressure because they were losing customers to Airbnb. Instead of offering competitive prices, they started to put pressure, and the law was established. I could say so many things about this, but it’s not the topic of this post, so let’s focus on the facts.
In 2023, things got more complicated. Listings will no longer be available for stays of less than 30 days unless property owners have gone through the city’s application process and received approval in the form of an official registration number. Check the new rules here.
But ultimately, under what circumstances is Airbnb legal in New York City?
To simplify, let’s make it very clear:
- Are you saying for less than 30 days? You can rent a room through Airbnb. This means the host/owner will also be present during your stay. No more than two paying guests can stay in a short-term rental at a time, no matter the dwelling size or the number of bedrooms.
- Are you saying for more than 30 days? You can rent either a room or an entire apartment or house on Airbnb.
- What you cannot do is rent an entire space – without the owner present – for a period shorter than 30 days.
- These rules are valid for Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island. You can rent an entire space for less than 30 days in New Jersey – Jersey City or Hoboken, for example.
How can you rent an apartment in New York City for less than 30 days?
If you are looking for an apartment for a short stay in New York City, Sonder can be a great option! Sonder is an apartment rental company that aims to provide a unique experience that combines the comforts of a home with the amenities and services typically associated with a hotel – and their units are hotel-licensed, which means they must comply with hotel safety codes and pay hotel taxes, and the short-term rental law doesn’t cover these units (hence why the Airbnb law doesn’t apply to them). Sonder has apartments in 40+ cities in 10 countries – approximately 9,000 units live worldwide – including New York City, with units in Manhattan, Queen and Brooklyn. They have studios and apartments with up to 3 rooms, and you get better prices when booking for more than 7 days.
How do you rent a room on Airbnb in New York City?
Renting a room through Airbnb can be a great way to save on accommodation costs – and consequently, have the possibility to cook some meals and save even more – while also experiencing the city like a local. Yeah, I know, I know, many people are skeptical about this option; there’s fear and insecurity involved… and taking that into consideration, Airbnb recently introduced new features and tools to enhance Airbnb Rooms.
Among the news, is the Host Passport, which helps you get to know your Host before booking your stay – you can tap it to view a larger photo and details Hosts have shared about themselves, including where they went to school, what they do for work, a fun fact about themselves and much more. And the Airbnb Rooms is now a category featuring a curated set of 1 million private bedrooms. Listings include access to shared spaces, like the kitchen, living room, or backyard. Also, the new privacy features ensure that all Airbnb Rooms clearly indicate if the bedroom door has a lock and the listing page also shows whether the bathrooms are shared or private and whether people other than the Host will be in the home during your stay.
How to rent an apartment on Airbnb in New York City?
If you’re staying in the city for more than 30 days, you can comfortably use Airbnb to rent an entire space just for yourself. Since it’s an entire space, paying attention to the available filters is even more important. Here are some key factors to consider:
- Number of rooms/beds – Sometimes, when you include the number of people in your search, the results may not necessarily correspond to the number of rooms. For example, you may be searching for a space for three people, but the listing might only have one bedroom and a sofa in the living room for the third person to sleep on. Always pay attention to the number of rooms/beds.
- Laundry facilities – Does the place have a washing machine? Is there a laundry facility in the building? This is important to consider when staying in a place for more than 30 days. If there isn’t one, don’t worry, there are laundromats on almost every corner in New York, as well as services that pick up and deliver your laundry. You can search for laundromats by typing “Laundry” or “Laundromat” on Google Maps in your accommodation area. Rinse is a convenient laundry app – use my link and get $20 in credits.
- Kitchen equipment – I mention this because I’ve had the experience of renting an apartment in Croatia that didn’t have a coffee maker, which was essential for us.
- Is there a designated workspace/study area? – I assume that many people traveling to New York for more than 30 days have other goals beyond tourism. If that’s the case for you, having a designated workspace/study area might be an important detail to consider.
- Other things to consider: Is the location close to a subway station? Are there grocer stores nearby? What are the check-in/check-out times and processes?
Considering these factors, you can find a suitable Airbnb rental for your extended stay in New York.
Now, let’s get to the practical tips
These tips apply to both rooms and entire apartments or houses:
- Pay attention to the listing description. Take note of what is included/not included and what is allowed/not allowed – every Airbnb has rules. Analyze if the rules align with your preferences, as the relationship between you and your host should be based on trust and respect.
- Check the location and do your research about transportation, making sure to consider nearby subway lines, which is crucial when you are in New York. Airbnb provides the exact location after the reservation is confirmed, but by looking at the map and asking the host, you can get a good sense of the area.
- Read all guest reviews. Just like on hotel booking websites, reviews are crucial in deciding on an Airbnb accommodation. Pay attention to the host’s ratings/stars and consider what is said about the place, checking if it matches the description provided. Airbnb reviews are rarely fake. If there are any complaints, see how the host responds.
- Check the check-in/check-out times and the process for both.
- Research the neighborhood on Google Maps and use the available resources to get an idea of the street and the surrounding area. Overall, New York is a very safe city.
- Airbnb has a Superhost badge. Superhosts are experienced hosts who are exemplary to others and provide extraordinary experiences to their guests. When a host achieves Superhost status, a badge will automatically appear on their listings and profiles, making it easier for you to identify them. Airbnb evaluates Superhosts’ activity four times a year to ensure that the program highlights those who are committed to offering a sensational hospitality experience. Do you have to rent only from Superhosts? No. But if you see the badge, you can certainly trust them.
- Trust your instincts, and do not accept any off-platform approaches. Payment is made through the Airbnb platform, so if the host suggests payment outside the site, be cautious and walk away.
Content creator and journalist in New York City. Here, I share lifestyle, beauty, NYC tips, thoughts, and the struggles about living in the most amazing city in the world! I’m not gonna pretend to be another person: I’m a Brazilian immigrant and I think this is my soul, it is part of who I am. I hope you enjoy my content! Follow me on Instagram!