New York considers ban on short-term vacation rentals, rent-seeking tourism industry rejoices

June 29th, 2010

From USA Today:

This week, writes Budget Travel, “New York state senators vote on a bill that would make it illegal for any homeowner or renter to sublet for less than a month. The new law would be a blanket ban on short-term rentals no matter how ethical the renter is. (It’s always been illegal to violate co-op leases and condominium bylaws.)”

As I noted back in 2008, the practice of renting New York City apartments for short-term stays was already controversial, in part because some landlords were scamming potential guests with substandard or even nonexistent digs.

So rather than staying at pricey New York hotels, tourists rent an apartment for a short period of time, likely at a rate cheaper than a hotel would charge. But New York will not let this happen.

NYC & Company, the city’s “official tourism arm” (I’m not quite sure what that means, other than the fact that they are quite good at rent-seeking) said of renting apartments: “This isn’t a business practice we support, and we strongly discourage people. It’s a real case of buyer beware.”

Unsurprisingly, private companies provide several protections to protect against fraud.

On the plus side, “sites like AirBnB generally offer security measures, such as holding your payment in escrow until you and the renter both meet in person and agree you’re a good match. The sites also let you ask a host questions eBay-style before you book,” says Budget Travel.

I guess that doesn’t matter. I suppose tourists will now have to stay in expensive hotels in New York City. It’s not like there are other, cheaper cities to visit. Wait? There are? Drats.