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I own a single-family house in NYC. Can I rent it out on Airbnb?
It's understandable that you're unclear on this, as the city's rules governing Airbnb rentals are rather complex, according to our experts.
First, an overview of the restrictions for both renters and owners: It's illegal under the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law to rent (and advertise) an apartment on Airbnb in a building with three or more units for less than 30 days, unless the owner or leaseholder is present.
Rent-stabilized tenants face additional limitations in what they can legally charge Airbnb renters, as Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer (and Brick sponsor) who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations, explains in a previous column.
Many co-op and condo boards, meanwhile, have their own set of rules to prevent residents from Airbnb-ing. Steven Wagner, a co-op and condo attorney with Wagner Berkow LLP (and also a Brick sponsor) explains in this column on the matter.
The multiple dwelling law does not apply to rentals in one or two-family private houses, but that doesn't mean you'll have smooth sailing when it comes to renting your house through Airbnb.
"The zoning of a residential property—say a single- or multi-family house—would have to be changed" to that of a rooming house to be legal says Deanna Kory, a broker with Corcoran. "That designation allows rentals of shorter duration than 30 days. It may also require certain aspects of the house to meet proper building code associated with such zoning."
Owners of single-family houses in New York are being fined by the city for short-term rentals falling outside of the uses specified in their houses' certificates of occupancy, as WNYC has reported. To see what is allowed under your house's current certificate of occupancy, you can look up your C of O through the Department of Buildings. You must have your C of O amended if you intend to rent out your place to vacationers. This could require you to hire an engineer or architect to ensure your home meets the structural requirements for a rooming house.
And fines from the city aren't the only potential hassle you'll face.
"Be aware that subletting your residence, especially on a short-term basis, can void your home or apartment insurance," says Jeffrey Schneider, president of Gotham Brokerage (a Brick sponsor). "Some policies will allow a few weeks of coverage, but you really have to call and check. Frequent, short-term rentals are generally not going to be covered."
Finally, straight from the horse's mouth, Airbnb notes advises that both the city and state may impose taxes on short-term rentals. All this is to say you have a number of risk factors to weigh before you take the Airbnb plunge as the owner of a house in New York City.
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