Why You May Have A Harder Time Finding Vacation Rentals For Your New York City Trip

New York City welcomed over 55 million visitors in 2022 and is on track to welcome even more in 2023. Although it's known as "the City that Never Sleeps," visitors eventually need a place to lay their heads. But now that Local Law 18 (also known as the Short-Term Rental Registration Law) is in effect, finding short-term accommodation in a city of high demand just got much more challenging.

So, what is Local Law 18? Originally adopted in January 2022 and starting in September 2023, Local Law 18 makes it extremely difficult for New York residents to rent their homes on a short-term basis. According to the New York City Office of Special Enforcement, short-term renting is generally defined as a rental for less than 30 consecutive days. Property owners with available short-term rental accommodations must now file a registration with the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement (OSE). Unfortunately, registration proves hard to obtain. According to The New York Times, over 3,000 registrations were received by late August, with only 257 receiving approval so far. And transactions on booking sites, like Airbnb, for unregistered short-term rentals are strictly prohibited. Further restrictions of Local Law 18 state that for a short-term rental in New York City to remain legal, owners must be present in the home for the duration of the short-term rental, and there can be no more than two paying guests at the premises. 

How does Local Law 18 affect tourists?

Proponents of Local Law 18 claim that short-term rentals exacerbate New York City's affordable housing crisis. However, Local Law 18 will likely significantly affect tourism, and the regulations may prove problematic. New York City is an expensive city. Short-term rental hosts and booking platforms offering cheaper accommodation options are expected to adhere to Local Law 18 as fines for host offenders include up to $100 for first-time offenders and $5,000 in fees for third-time offenders. Platforms will also receive hefty fees, up to $1,500 per occurrence. Unfortunately for tourists looking for alternative solutions to costly hotels, Local Law 18 is taking affordable short-term rentals off the market as unregistered short-term rentals will likely not be available.

Are you traveling to New York City with a pre-booked short-term rental? According to The New York Times, tourists seeking short-term rentals in New York City have not been able to make bookings on Airbnb since mid-August for after September 5. However, if a tourist does have a short-term rental booking for after September 5, as long as the check-in day is before December 1, the reservation will not be canceled. For stays after December 2, the booking will likely be canceled and refunded.

Alternative ways to find affordable accommodation in New York City

Finding affordable accommodation in New York City is not always easy. One legal way to rent an apartment or home for less than 30 days in compliance with Local Law 18 is to consider renting a room in an accommodation where the host also resides. This is legal as long as there are less than two paying guests and the host is present. However, while many tourists seek private rentals, this option isn't for everyone.

Since many tourists book short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb to save money, and these short-term rental options are primarily out of the picture, tourists should consider alternative choices. Manhattan is expensive. Consider staying in a less expensive borough, like Brooklyn or Queens. Consider traveling during off-peak months. Winter is often a cheaper time of year to visit New York City, especially January and February. And there's never a bad time of year to visit New York's must-see museums and most popular tourist attractions. Weekday stays are often less expensive than weekends, and sometimes, a pinch of flexibility can result in huge savings.