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Has anyone booked an Airbnb or similar apartment in New York please?

(11 Posts)
Celeriacacaca Wed 12-Feb-14 16:43:22

We're going in April and it doesn't make sense to stay in a hotel. Am looking for a recommendation please from either Airbnb or the other apartment rental sites. Am aware of going for places with lots of reviews etc etc. TIA.

TalkinPeace Wed 12-Feb-14 21:34:21

AirBnb is technically illegal in New York so you need to be careful
we ended up arranging privately
but the person we rented from is now a friend

Pinkandwhite Wed 12-Feb-14 21:39:42

We stayed here in October:

Which is kind of similar to airbnb... Certainly much cheaper than hotels. The owner was a very nice man. Very warm/welcoming etc. The apartment we stayed in was clean, modern and spacious (for NYC).

Electryone Wed 12-Feb-14 23:35:46

I thought letting out apartments was illegal in New York.

Pinkandwhite Wed 12-Feb-14 23:54:53

Wow, I had no idea it was illegal! A good and cheapish hotel option is:

I spent 5 nights there last year and had a lovely stay.

RudyMentary Wed 12-Feb-14 23:57:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JanineStHubbins Thu 13-Feb-14 00:02:39

Interested to see this thread as I am going to NY in a couple of months and was thinking of Air BnB. A friend mentioned the legal issues so I did some digging - as far as I can make out, the legality is dubious only if you are renting out an entire apartment. If you are renting a room and the owner/tenant is present, that seems to be ok. In any case, it seems that the NY states attorney is going to law to get Air BnB to hand over names of those letting out rooms/apartments - it's the hosts that would face legal proceedings and fines if the case gets through court, not the visitors.

If anyone else has different information to that, I'd be glad to hear it.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 13-Feb-14 07:27:12


Please do not do this!. It actually makes plenty of sense to stay in a hotel!. You will at least have a room, too many people have shown up at apartment buildings to discover that the apartment they've been promised does not exist!.

Short term lettings of less than 30 days for apartments in NYC is illegal; their rules there are different to other US cities. Read the articles in the NY Times and on Tripadvisor.

Many such listings also are scams and many people have been conned out of a ton of money. Airbnb and the others do not check whether the listings are genuine so it is a risk full stop. Many residents as well do not like tourists coming and going from their building the whole time; this is one of many reasons why such a practice has been banned. Many NYC apartments are very small and cramped also.

You would be far better off staying in a hotel in NYC instead. Sorry but that is the way it is there.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 13-Feb-14 07:32:13

From tripadvisor:-

SCAMS AND HAZARDS: Most users of the NYC Forum will advise against short-term apartment rentals because many of the situations are scams (the apartment may not exist, or “bait-and-switch” tactics may be used), because of safety concerns (your ability to leave the building in case of fire, for example) and because of the possibility of eviction during your stay. Anyone can put photos and an ad on the internet. Keep in mind that "brownstone townhouses" are not like townhouses in the suburbs. They are usually over 100 years old and look it. Older buildings up to 5 stories high were not required to have elevators. Typical apartments in Manhattan are small, do not have much closet space and usually have very small bathrooms. That "open plan kitchen" in a "loft space" could mean that it's just a 450-square-foot (42 square-meter) one-room studio with a kitchen against the wall.

BUILDING RULES: Aside from local laws, many large apartment buildngs in NYC are condominiums or co-operatives (co-ops), and they are governed by rules about what their residents can and can not do. Most likely, their rules prohibit renting apartments to tourists on a weekly or daily basis. If the neighbors are fed up with a resident who has tourists coming in and out on a weekly basis, and if they don't want strangers to have copies of keys to the building, they will check with the super or management company to find out what's going on.

LOCAL LAWS: Short-term (less than a month) rentals of apartments in New York City violate various laws and building regulations. In general, renting an apartment to someone without a lease for less than 30 days at a time is illegal. The current local laws are confusing and often do not get enforced, but revised laws that are clearer take effect May 2011. Are there exceptions? Yes, especially for OWNER OCCIED buildings with 4 or fewer apartments, including the owner's apartment. But odds are the apartment vacation rental you're considering is NOT an exception. Check the DOB website above for building info, dont waste your time researching the internet until 3 in the morning trying to find that needle in NYC's housing haystack. Hosted stays in apartments or bed-and-breakfast accommodations present a different legal and regulatory situation. In Manhattan, though, these may cost about the same as hotel accommodations.

TYING UP THE HOUSING MARKET: Housing is already a hot commodity in NYC, and affordable housing in Manhattan is an endangered species. In the pursuit of higher rents and better income, some landlords illegally convert buildings into hotels. One can also make the argument that locals who hold leases on apartments they don't use creates an artificial real estate shortage and drives up rental prices. There are 3 million households in NYC. If even one half of one percent decides to rent out their lodging to tourists, that would take 15,000 living spaces off the market. Some might say your'e helping the economy, but for whom? There are lots of issues that follow in the wake of such rentals.

IMPACT ON LOCAL RESIDENTS: Most locals don't like having strangers coming and going in their place of residence. Even worse, some residents are innocently used as pawns in apartment scams, unbeknownst to them!

"I can't believe there are no legit vacation apartment rentals!"

Yes, there are some legit and legal ones out there, but they're hard to find and there's no way to tell from an ad or website what you're getting. Some newer buildings permit unit owners to rent or sublet on a daily or weekly basis because that was what was in demand in the early 2000s. A lot of new construction has happened in areas with new or revised zoning laws. Some fancy new apartment buildings can't even give away their units in this economy and have converted from condo to rentals. Etc, etc, yadda-yadda-yadda. But again, you'll just have to take it on faith that you're not breaking a rule, bothering neighbors or being scammed. To find out if you are renting in a building with illegal rentals complaints or any other type of building violations, use free interactive map of building violations published based on weekly data provided by the Department of Buildings.

"What's the worst that can happen?"

Here's the breakdown:

1) Nothing. You rent, you come, you stay, you leave. You have no idea whether it's legal or not. Except for making the NYC housing market more difficult for locals, nothing bad happens to you.

2) You rent, you come, you find the apartment not as advertised. It's not what you expected, you don't get homey service, and the managers are unresponsive. You didn't realize that most NYC apartments are old, small, unglamorous and not luxurious. You choose between staying or not, but getting a refund is unlikely, so you might be out what you have paid, etc.

3) You rent, you come, there is no apartment. Or, there is an apartment that belongs to someone else. Or, the scammer is using a hotel's address. You are out whatever you have paid, you have to spend lots more to find a hotel.

4) You rent, you come, you are thrown out of the building. If the place is part of an illegal hotel, it can be shut down by the FDNY or the NYPD. Seriously. Again, you are out what you have paid and have to find another hotel.

"But the website I used seems reputable and legitimate! And they advertise in guidebooks and on travel websites, too!"

Websites advertising short-term apartment rentals in New York City do not screen or verify the advertisements, and so they provide no guarantee of legality or conformance to building regulations. Therefore it is extremely difficult to recommend any apartment rental websites for New York City.

note: these websites often are legitimate. Housing laws in the USA are local laws, so the rules can differ from town to town. With over 25,000 cities, towns, etc. here it almost impossible for sites to know the local laws, so most rely on the person making the listing to know, and comply, with the law.

"But otherwise, I can't afford to visit NYC! I thought this was a free country? I'm helping locals make some extra money! And besides, what does this have to do with me?"

There are plenty of hotel deals to be had in NYC. And there are many apartment-style and suite hotels here, too. You can use a website like Better Bidding to decode Priceline's hidden hotels.

Pinkandwhite Thu 13-Feb-14 15:08:21

It looks like I was lucky that when I booked an apartment it actually existed and was quite nice!

The other thing I've done in New York is book a 'mystery' hotel room through Expedia. That gives you 40% off the price of the room although obviously you don't know which hotel it is before you book. I ended up getting the New Yorker hotel:

The room was very small but absolutely fine. It's a massive hotel. I was on floor thirty something...

TalkinPeace Thu 13-Feb-14 20:46:05

the apartment I rented I knew was real because I know the development well so I knew how the kitchen should look
all was well and I'll use it again another day

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