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Airbnb's Guide

Airbnb's Guide

Overview
Airbnb setups and what’s legal
Screening and Safety
Finding Good Listings
Ensuring a good stay

There are thousands of Airbnb listings offered in every borough of New York, from entire brownstones in Brooklyn to closet-sized bedrooms in the East Village. This short-term rental company offers homey places to stay for visitors, as well as serious cash for the New Yorkers who decide to rent out their place. But Airbnb’s surge of popularity is not without controversy, with many elected officials questioning the legality of these short-term rentals. Here’s what you need to know about renting out your New York apartment, or picking a place to rent through Airbnb in New York, covering everything from what’s legal to how to screen your guests or host.

Airbnb setups and what’s legal

There are two different short-term rental setups offered through Airbnb: renting out a room while the original occupants remain in the apartment, or renting out an entire apartment or house without any tenants present. This is an important distinction, given a New York law that makes it illegal to sublet an entire home for less than 30 days. If the Airbnb listing is for a room in a home that permanent residents are living in, it’s legal. But if the permanent residents are handing their entire space to an Airbnb renter for less than 30 days, it’s not. (A report from December 2015 found that 55% of Airbnb users are renting their entire apartment while they’re gone, rather than a single room while they’re present, technically breaking the law.)

This 30 day sublet law has been an ongoing point of contention between Airbnb and city officials. Many politicians and housing advocates have fought to uphold the law and provide fines for those who break it--although they are mainly concerned with landlords who rent out apartments through Airbnb rather than list them as permanent rentals, as opposed to residents who occasionally rent out their home on the weekend.

Screening and Safety

If you are offering your apartment via Airbnb while you’re away--or you’re the short-term renter who’s occupying that space--it’s in your best interest to be conscientious. Because you’ll be opening your home to a stranger, hosts should screen their guests just like guests screen potential places they’d like to stay. Make sure you have positive social interactions through Airbnb. Airbnb hosts and guests should have full profiles and respond quickly to inquiries. (Airbnb also offers a “verification badge” to users, to ensure that person is who they say they are.) Users can link their Facebook account to their Airbnb profile, giving you the option to check out their social connections. Read the reviews left about users, and don’t be afraid to ask for references if anything seems fishy. Here are the safety tips offered from Airbnb.

Finding Good Listings

On the hunt for a great vacation sublet in New York? With so much to choose from, it can feel overwhelming. Before you start looking, narrow down your options: do you want to rent a room (which is typically cheaper) or an entire apartment (which can get expensive)? What’s your budget? What type of neighborhood would you like to stay in? Apartments in popular neighborhoods may be higher in price and smaller in space, but if you’d rather be centrally located around transit hubs, those issues may not matter. You’ll pay less to stay in outer boroughs, but that means extra transportation time into Manhattan.

Airbnb makes it pretty easy to narrow down your choices based on date, location, price and type of host. They also offer a map that shows price comparisons in different locations around the city.

Ensuring a good stay

After you’ve screened your guests or host, ensuring a good stay should be a no brainer. As a host, make sure you’re available and responsive to your guests if they need anything. As guests, respect the apartment and building that you’re staying in. Simple courtesies and housekeeping ensure the best possible short-term trip in the city.

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