Notices

Has anyone used airbnb for New York?

Reply

Jul 16th, 2012, 01:46 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Has anyone used airbnb for New York?

I go to New York once in awhile, mostly for opera, and have stayed in a variety of lodgings over the years, from the HI hostel (very good choice for the younger set!) to the Grand Hyatt.

If going with family or friends, it's always fun to be together in a hotel, but sometimes I go alone.

My needs have become increasingly simpler over the years - just a clean, quiet place to sleep and maybe just to rest a bit before opera and after a full day at some museum.

So, the airbnb route seems a possibility for one person. Have you tried getting a room in NY on airbnb? What part of town did you stay in? Was it safe? How close to public transportation were you?

I'm always up to trying something new.
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 01:58 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,469
There are dozens of posts here, many recent, about how most short term apartment rentals (under 30 days) are illegal in NYC.
nyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 03:26 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,553
et, I'd say that Fodor's is maybe not the best place to ask about Airbnb in NYC - it seems to bring up all the vitriol around short-term rentals and the illegality thereof (though I don't seem to see the same type of responses around other, longer-established rental sites like Vrbo...).

That said, I'd say overall my experiences with Airbnb have been good ones - I like that the company goes a long way to help verify what's posted on the site, including photos taken by Airbnb staff (not the host), and reputation builders for both hosts and guests. You need to find listings that have multiple positive reviews, and you might even consider having a local friend go check the place out.

FWIW, I live in "brownstone" Brooklyn, where many people own their own homes and would not fall afoul of the short-term rent laws. My neighborhood, Park Slope, is serviced by multiple subway lines and is 1/2 hour to midtown; there are a number of other neighborhoods nearby that would be similar.

If you decide to look at listings on Airbnb, the map feature will show you the general area of the listing, but it's close enough that you'll get a good idea of nearby transportation. If you're interested in a listing, you can always contact the host for more specific details. (To see what I mean, try it with listings for a place you're familiar with.)
ggreen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 03:31 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,838
If you rent a single room in someone's apt or house, it is legal. The issue comes in when you rent an entire apartment. Lots of threads here about short term rentals in NYC. Most strongly suggest, with links to city ordinances, that it is illegal for most of these rentals.
DebitNM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 04:05 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,469
"If you rent a single room in someone's apt or house, it is legal"
Actually it's not that simple. It depends on (among other things) whether the host is actually there. I believe (though I have no stake in this so I haven't researched it in detail) that you also still have to have a specific type of building occupancy certificate any time cash changes hands (so you can certainly let a friend stay in your place for free)
That may also be why owning an entire building like a brownstone doesn't not automatically qualify it as legit

All of this is to let the OP know that what may apply and be good about something like AirBNB in general may still not be relevant for NYC and some other places that have these kinds of local laws
nyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 04:44 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Well, I'm not into breaking anybody's laws - and certainly won't be drinking large sodas in NYC!

Laws get written and then they get all tangled up in interpretation - it means this, no, it means that.

So, I take it, Debi, that if the host/hostess is resident in the apartment, one can use airbnb?

Sorry, but i participate only on a few threads and am here only intermittently, so had no idea this was a "hot" topic on Fodors. Didn't mean to step on anyone's toes - just looking into another type of lodging possibility.

ggreen: thanks for the heads up on the controversy. Unfortunately, Brooklyn is not priority location number one, since it involves going clear across Manhattan to get to Lincoln Center. Maybe the Jersey side? Or do they have the same rental policies?
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 04:54 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,469
easytraveler, the laws we're talking about are specifci to New York City. Other parts of NY state and other states like NJ have their own laws, though I doubt they are as restrictive. It has to do with the specific nature of housing in NYC-- very low turnover of apartments, extremely high occupancy (something like 99%!) and the fact that "quality of life" is such a hot button issue here.

And as you noted, it does come down to interpretation sometimes, DebitNM and I seem to have different impressions about how the law applies to owner occupied buildings and it would really be up to a prospective renter to figure out the truth.

The soda ban (only sugared drinks, by the way, and there are exemptions for fruit or milk based drinks, and lots of other loopholes) if passed won't take effect until September , so feel free to come over and drink away for now!
nyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 05:22 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
nyer: easytraveler, the laws we're talking about are specifci to New York City.

Thanks for trying to lead me, the blind, through the maze of NYC's rental laws.

Does this law apply to all five boroughs? ggreen seems to indicate that it's OK to rent out a room in one's own home in Brooklyn. Does this apply to the other four boroughs as well?

So, the new laws apply only to those living in apartments? What's a condo, then? Can one rent a room in a condo?

What if someone owns an entire building with several apartments. He/she lives in one. Can rooms be rented out of the other apartments or is that forbidden too?

Wow, what a minefield! who wrote up this law anyhow?
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 05:39 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,469
Minefield indeed!
Definitely all 5 boroughs of NYC. That's the only really clear part. And the relevant laws have actually been around for ages (mostly to do with totally illegal hotel situations) but details were updated, clarified, heavily promoted, and enforced starting about a year ago

Many of the restrictions are based on the certificate of Occupancy for the building so whether there are rental apts, condo apt or co-op apts, you nee to find out what the COO is and what each category allows. It's not always easy to figure this out.

The arguments here come up either when someone says "I don't care what the law is, I want to stay in NYC this way, tell me how to get around the law" OR when someone says "well this situation is different. my friend says his place is allowed" and someone else says "no it's not"
nyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 06:01 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,553
Yes, and to make matters worse, you won't find any information in this regard on the websites for Airbnb and other similar agencies like Vrbo. There is language in their Terms of Service/policy pages that absolve them of any liability, to whit that (a) they are an online platform to facilitate agreements between hosts and guests, but they're not a rental broker etc.; and (b) it's up to the host to know and abide by any local laws.
http://www.airbnb.com/terms

So in a city like NYC that has laws like these, short of asking the prospective host about their listing, you have no idea if it's legal or not!

And easytraveler, I hear you about Brooklyn not being a prime location for an opera lover! I'm sure there are private homes amongst the townhouses on the UWS - but the same laws prevail. Such a bummer!

FWIW, nyer made a very informative post about the short-term rental laws earlier this year:
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...nt-rentals.cfm

The revamped rules are basically new to us NYC residents, too, and it's not easy to sort it all out!
ggreen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 06:08 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,838
I like that the company goes a long way to help verify what's posted on the site, including photos taken by Airbnb staff (not the host)

I venture that the vast majority of photos on Airbnb are not taken by [and therefore are not verified] by Airbnb. And I do not think they do anything to verify what a host lists as far as description or anything else on the listing.

FWIW - I am in no way trying to badmouth airbnb. In fact, we have had 2 great experiences with renting apartments via airbnb. BUT, I don't want anyone who reads this to think that airbnb is truly more that a listing service that brings together interested parties, as quoted above in (a).
DebitNM is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 06:34 PM
  #12
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,646
This whole thing is a can of snakes. Many co-ops and condos have leases banning the tenant from subletting short-term - or at all without prior board approval. And many rental apartments have leases banning the renter from bringing in additional roommates (people who pay) without approval from the landlord. So - while these may not be illegal - you still might be subject to removal if discovered.

Also - there are quite a few illegal B&Bs in nyc that the city has been cracking down on. If a B&B charges you tax on the room they are legal - if they don't - they are illegal - and very probably not following the proper fire and safety codes.

Far safer to stay in a place that you know is legitimate.
nytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 08:51 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,696
I also studied this before our trip. I did find a couple of LEGAL B&Bs that I confirmed on the city of New York's website. There was also a website where the true B&B owners had organized and the leader called me and reconfirmed for me. I found their website to be very informative: http://www.staynyc.org/index.htm

However, the only B&B that had the appropriate room available for my family of 5 was not really the best location for what I wanted on a first visit. I ended up going with a hotel. However, in a future visit, particularly with less people in my party, a B&B might be a nice option. They may not be as cheap as AirB&B, but some are still very reasonable in price.
5alive is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 09:18 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,469
The link 5alive includes is informative and explains the law a little and points to the seriousness of some B&B owners in trying to run a business and work with the laws.
http://www.staynyc.org/who.htm
"Unlike illegal hostels and hotels, all of our members meet the following requirements:
•NYC Licensed Small Facility Operators
•Collect and pay NYC hotel tax, occupancy tax, City and State sales tax
•Small buildings that are exclusively used as bed and breakfasts
•Have less than 10 rooms"


However. I saw this on another of their pages http://www.staynyc.org/issue.htm

"The spirit of the law is to protect tenants and tourists in New York City from illegal hotels that don't comply with local building, fire and housing codes."
"We are seeking an exemption because our members clearly manage their facilities differently"

I could be misreading, but to me that means though they mean well and may a have a legitimate cause, they are NOT currently in compliance with local laws and so are seeking but have not yet been granted exemption from the relevant statute

It is a very complex situtaion that is not likely to be sorted out any time soom
nyer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 16th, 2012, 10:22 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,553
I venture that the vast majority of photos on Airbnb are not taken by [and therefore are not verified] by Airbnb. And I do not think they do anything to verify what a host lists as far as description or anything else on the listing.

Deb, I should have clarified that I'm talking about the listings where the photos have a clearly identified label that says "Airbnb Verified". These ARE photos taken by Airbnb staff, not the host.

As for the written description, there's no Airbnb "seal of approval" on those. And much like most hotel listings I've ever read, many overstate things like proximity to sights - that's why you have to read the guest reviews and make up your own mind. (Again, just like I wouldn't reserve a hotel room without perusing TripAdvisor!)
ggreen is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 12:20 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 5,760
I think it's just too hard to police in a big crazy place like NYC with so many visitors. And the police don't want to spend all their time settling disputes and lost deposits and thefts and calls to 911 because "I paid a lot and this is nothing like the picture on the website."

Proceed with caution as others have said, checking references, reviews, laws. You could wake up missing a kidney.

www.larchmonthotel.com
tracys2cents is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 12:34 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 398
Well, if you don't mind not paying you might try http://www.couchsurfing.org/ which connects traveling folks. Select 'opera lover' and see who sings.
jobin is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 06:26 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 26,710
Proceed with caution as others have said, checking references, reviews, laws. You could wake up missing a kidney.
______
That's a relief. I thought I lost it from drinking.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 07:57 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 9,898
I guess if I were 18 again and more trusting of my fellow man, I might consider AirBnB, but there are just too many scams in NYC and I don't trust people that much (and would never want to stay in some stranger's private home). It's likely you could end up on a couch or even sharing a studio apartment air mattress, and I am just too old to do that at any price.

The Pod Hotel and the Yotel both have tiny private rooms (the former with a shared bath, the latter with a private bath). The Larchmont also has tiny rooms with shared bath. Or you can often get a hotel in Long Island City Queens for around $100 per night for most of the year. I'd go with any of those over Airbnb.
doug_stallings is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2012, 10:04 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Thank you all for your wonderful input.

We have a favorite little boutique hotel that we usuallly go to, but the single room is tiny and, short as I am, it gets claustrophic in there and I feel that in turning around I might bump into myself. so, it's not really relaxing. The double rooms are fine, and, if push comes to shove, as a last minute option, a double in that hotel will do. But it's doing the same thing over and over again. Maybe something a bit different this time?

I've been looking at the airbnb rooms on the Jersey side and some of them have really great user reviews, which makes it easier to make a choice. A lot of people go out of the way to comment that the room looks exactly as pictured, which is a great help for future potential occupants.

The only major concern (apart from the paranoid need to have CLEANLINESS) is safety at night. some of the operas are quite long and some of those buses across the river stop running (when? midnight? 1am?), so it's either a taxi ride back or swimming across the Hudson River. I'm not very good at swimming rivers. Maybe a pair of those airwings flotation devices that one puts on little kids will be a good investment. Are there crocodiles or sharks in the Hudson River?

Doug: you're a spring chicken compared to me, but thanks for your good-hearted warning and concern about staying with strangers. I'm used to pensions when in Europe and this could be just a variation of that. Realize airbnb is a bit controversial, so I'll heed your warning and take extra care in the selection. Trying to hunt for a lost kidney in bustling New York City must be a real bummer.

Thanks to all for your good advice, it's helping me a lot in my decision-making. Please keep it coming.
easytraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:36 AM.