New York Bans Short-Term Vacation Rentals, Attracts Instant Criticism

Travellers to New York City will have significantly less housing options to choose from over the next few months. The city recently passed a law banning the rental of apartments and houses for periods of under thirty days. New York Governor David Paterson signed the bill after saying that such legislation would likely be vetoed, enraging part-time renters throughout the city.

The bill is a major blow to the city’s inexpensive rental housing industry, which has offered rental properties for vacationers and budget travellers over the last decade. New York City has some of the highest hotel prices in the world, making the vacation rentals an affordable and simple option for families and budget travellers in the city. Hotel prices in Manhattan average around $200 nightly.

Vacation rental owners are planning to take their operations underground, offering the apartments as temporary home-stays using services such as Craigslist and CouchSurfers. The ban was approved by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a recent speech, who claimed that is is as much about apartment safety as it is built to crack down on illegal hotels and vacation rentals.

Paris was one of the first major cities to pass such a bill, pushing a temporary ban on holiday rentals through local government just three months ago. Both arrangements are designed to stimulate hotels and other ‘official’ tourist residences in the city, although owners suspect they will have unintended consequences. Illegal rentals could simply become less visible in the city, leading to potential crime.

However, the bill may still be overturned. Property groups have filed suit with the local authorities, claiming that the bill violates their basic rights and limits the usage of their property. City tourism groups are likely to meet about the matter in the coming days, raising the possibility of a state-level veto and potential reversal of the policy.