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Long Island, New York Short-Term Rental Regulation: A Guide For Airbnb Hosts

Long Island, New York

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What are Short-Term Rental (Airbnb, VRBO) Regulations in Long Island, New York?

Short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO have become increasingly popular in Long Island, New York, in recent years. However, property owners looking to start a short-term rental business need to be aware of the various regulations and restrictions that apply. The rules governing short-term rentals can often be found in local zoning codes, planning codes, ordinances, and real estate forums. Here's an overview of what you need to know:

Starting a Short-Term Rental Business in Long Island

To legally operate a short-term rental in Long Island, you'll need to comply with the specific requirements of the town or village where your property is located. Some key considerations:

  • In many areas, short-term rentals are only permitted if the property is the host's primary residence, where they live for most of the year. Non-owner occupied rentals may be prohibited.
  • There are often limits on the number of days per year that a property can be rented short-term. For example, in the Town of Brookhaven, short-term rentals are limited to no more than 90 days per calendar year.
  • Hosts may need to register their short-term rental and obtain a permit from the local municipality. This can involve an application process, fees, and an inspection of the property to ensure it meets safety standards.
  • There are usually restrictions on the number of guests that can stay in a short-term rental at one time, often based on the number of bedrooms. Rentals to large groups for "party houses" are not allowed.
  • Hosts are required to collect and remit occupancy taxes on short-term rental income, which can range from 3-6% in Suffolk County and 3-5% in Nassau County, depending on the town.

It's important to carefully review the short-term rental regulations for your specific town, as the rules can vary significantly across Long Island. For example:

  1. The Town of Southold requires a minimum stay of 14 nights and caps short-term rentals at 60 days total per year.
  2. The Town of East Hampton requires short-term rental properties to register with the town and caps rentals at a maximum of 15 days per year.
  3. The Town of Islip prohibits short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of the town, but allows them with a permit in most incorporated villages.

Failure to comply with local short-term rental regulations can result in significant fines. In the Town of Brookhaven, first-time violators can face fines ranging from $500 to $4,000 and up to 15 days in jail.

Short-Term Rental Licensing Requirement in New York City

To legally operate a short-term rental in New York City, hosts must register with the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) and obtain a registration number. Enforcement of this new law began on September 5, 2023. Here are the key requirements based on the official NYC government website:

Requirements:

  • The rental unit must be the host's primary residence where they live for at least 275 days of the year
  • Hosts can only rent to a maximum of two paying guests at a time
  • The host must be present in the unit during the guests' entire stay
  • Rentals are limited to stays of less than 30 consecutive days
  • Hosts must obtain a short-term rental registration number from the OSE and include it in all listings and advertisements

To apply for a short-term rental registration:

  • Create an account on the OSE's Short-Term Rental Registration Portal
  • Complete the online application, providing proof of primary residence, a diagram of the unit, and other required information
  • Pay the $145 application fee
  • Wait for the OSE to review the application, which can take several months
  • If approved, add the registration number to all short-term rental listings

The registration is valid for one year and must be renewed annually. The OSE publishes the address and registration status of approved short-term rentals on the city's open data portal.

Fines and Penalties:

Hosts who violate the short-term rental regulations face fines ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for a first offense. Fines for booking services like Airbnb that process transactions for unregistered listings start at $1,500 per illegal transaction. Repeat offenders may face additional penalties.

It's important to note that many residential buildings in NYC prohibit short-term rentals entirely through leases, co-op or condo bylaws, and other private agreements. The city maintains a "Prohibited Buildings List" that allows building owners to formally bar short-term rentals on their properties. Hosts should carefully review their building's rules before applying for a registration.

The new law has significantly reduced the number of short-term rental listings in New York City as many hosts are unable or unwilling to meet the strict requirements. Those considering operating a short-term rental should consult with a qualified attorney to ensure full compliance with all applicable regulations.

Required Documents for New York City Short-Term Rentals

To apply for a short-term rental registration number in New York City, hosts must submit the following documents through the OSE's online portal:

Proof of Primary Residence: Hosts must provide two of the following documents to prove the rental unit is their primary residence:

  • A valid New York State Driver's License or Non-Driver ID with the rental address
  • A utility bill (gas, electric, water, cable, or internet) in the host's name dated within the last 60 days
  • A current lease or property deed with the host's name
  • A voter registration card with the rental address
  • A bank statement in the host's name dated within the last 60 days
  • A property tax bill with the host's name
  • An income tax return with the rental address

Diagram of the Rental Unit: Hosts must submit a floor plan or diagram of the short-term rental unit showing all rooms, exits, and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. The diagram does not need to be professionally created but must have clear labels and dimensions.

Signed Affidavit of Compliance: Hosts must sign an affidavit affirming that they have reviewed the short-term rental laws and meet all the requirements, including having the necessary insurance coverage, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and fire safety notices posted in the unit.

Government-Issued Photo ID: Hosts must provide a clear copy of a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver's license or passport, to verify their identity.

Proof of Home-Sharing Insurance (if applicable): If using a home-sharing platform like Airbnb that provides insurance, hosts must submit documentation of the insurance policy. If not using such a platform, hosts must have at least $500,000 in liability insurance coverage and provide proof.

These documents must be submitted in PDF or image format through the OSE's short-term rental registration portal. The OSE may request additional documentation as needed to verify eligibility.

Hosts who live in rent-stabilized or rent-controlled apartments, or receive a tax abatement or exemption for their property, must submit additional documentation to show they are not violating the terms of those programs by operating a short-term rental.

Failure to provide accurate and complete documentation can result in the denial of a short-term rental registration application. Hosts who submit false documents may be subject to fines and legal penalties.

The strict documentation requirements, coupled with the ban on short-term rentals in many buildings, have made it challenging for many New Yorkers to legally host on platforms like Airbnb. However, city officials argue the regulations are necessary to protect the city's limited housing stock and maintain safety standards. Prospective hosts should carefully review the requirements and their property's eligibility before attempting to register.

New York State Wide Short-Term Rental Rules

In addition to local regulations in cities and towns across Long Island, short-term rental hosts must also comply with state-wide laws in New York that govern rental properties. Here are some of the key state-wide rules to be aware of:

New York State Multiple Dwelling Law

This law applies to buildings with three or more units and is the primary state statute affecting short-term rentals. It states that units in "Class A" multiple dwellings can only be used for "permanent resident purposes," defined as occupancy by the same person or family for 30 or more consecutive days. Short-term rentals of less than 30 days are prohibited in these buildings unless the permanent resident is present during the rental period.

Fire and Safety Requirements

New York State requires that all rental properties, including short-term rentals, meet certain fire and safety standards:

  • Working smoke detectors must be installed in each sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the dwelling.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors are required in dwellings with fuel-burning appliances, fireplaces, or attached garages.
  • The property must have at least one safe means of egress from each sleeping room to the outside.
  • Fire extinguishers and first-aid kits should be easily accessible to guests.

Failure to meet these safety requirements can result in fines and legal liability for the host.

Taxes on Short-Term Rentals

Short-term rental income is subject to several state taxes in New York:

  • New York State Sales Tax of 4% on all short-term rentals
  • New York City Sales Tax of 4.5% (if the property is located within the five boroughs)
  • Hotel Unit Fee of $1.50 per day (if the property is located in NYC)
  • Hotel Room Occupancy Tax ranging from 3-6% depending on the county

Hosts are responsible for collecting these taxes from guests and remitting them to the state. Platforms like Airbnb collect and remit some, but not all, of these taxes on behalf of hosts.

Insurance Requirements

While not legally required, it's strongly recommended that hosts maintain liability insurance that specifically covers short-term rental operations. Relying solely on a standard homeowners or renters insurance policy is risky, as many exclude coverage for commercial activities like short-term rentals. Proper short-term rental insurance can protect hosts from property damage and injuries to guests and help cover legal costs in the event of a lawsuit.

Other State Laws and Best Practices

  • All rentals should have a written rental agreement between the host and guest outlining the terms of the stay, house rules, and check-in/check-out procedures.
  • Hosts should keep detailed records of rental income and expenses for tax purposes.
  • Any security deposits collected must be placed in a separate, interest-bearing account in a New York bank. Deposits must be returned to guests within 14 days of check-out, minus any lawful deductions.
  • Hosts cannot refuse to rent to guests based on race, religion, gender, national origin, disability, marital status, or other protected classes under New York State Human Rights Law.

It's crucial for hosts to understand and comply with all applicable state and local laws before listing their property for short-term rental. Consulting with a local attorney specializing in landlord-tenant law can help hosts navigate the complex regulatory landscape and avoid costly penalties. By following state and local requirements, hosts can operate successful and compliant short-term rentals across New York.

Does New York City Strictly Enforce Short-Term Rental Rules?

New York City has some of the strictest short-term rental regulations in the country and actively enforces these rules. The city is not considered Airbnb-friendly compared to many other major cities.

Under the Short-Term Rental Registration Law that went into effect in September 2023, hosts must register their short-term rentals with the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement. Unregistered rentals are illegal, and both hosts and platforms like Airbnb face steep fines for violations. Hosts can be fined up to $5,000, while platforms can face $1,500 penalties per illegal transaction they facilitate.

The registration process has proven difficult, with the city approving fewer than 300 applications out of over 3,800 received as of September 2023. This has resulted in a drastic reduction of Airbnb listings, with the number dropping from around 40,000 in June 2023 to under 5,000 after the law took effect.

Despite the risks, some hosts continue to operate short-term rentals illegally in New York City. However, the general consensus on forums like BiggerPockets and Reddit is that it's not worth the potential consequences. Many hosts advise others to either comply with the onerous registration requirements or switch to long-term rentals.

For example, in a September 2023 thread on the Airbnb Hosts subreddit, a host shared:

"Hosted in NYC for 10 years and Superhost. Our family depended on the earned income to succeed, but now we're face to face with the new reality. Has anyone discovered a workaround? Or it just is what it is, and we're the nail?"

Most responses emphasized that there is no easy workaround and that continuing to operate illegally is very risky. One host replied bluntly: "NYC is gonna crush AirBnb. Enjoy $1000/night hotel rooms everywhere."

Another host on BiggerPockets described receiving a $500 citation from their Long Island town for operating an unregistered short-term rental and being threatened with fines up to $10,000 and possible jail time if they didn't cease operations immediately.

The overall sentiment is that New York City is actively cracking down on illegal Airbnbs, and hosts who violate the rules are likely to face stiff penalties. While a few hosts may still attempt to skirt the regulations, it has become exceedingly difficult to operate short-term rentals in the city legally. Most hosts are pivoting to long-term tenants or getting out of the short-term rental business entirely in NYC.

In conclusion, New York City strictly enforces its short-term rental regulations and is one of the least Airbnb-friendly major cities in the United States. Attempting to operate an unregistered short-term rental is very risky, with costly fines and even potential criminal liability. The vast majority of NYC hosts are complying with the new registration law, switching to long-term rentals, or exiting the market.

How to Start a Short-Term Rental Business in New York City

Starting a short-term rental business in New York City is a complex process due to the city's strict regulations. However, it can be a profitable venture for hosts who carefully follow all the necessary steps and requirements. Here's a numbered list of the key steps to get started:

1. Determine if your property is eligible for short-term rentals.

  • Review the NYC Multiple Dwelling Law and the building's certificate of occupancy to confirm the property can be legally rented short-term.
  • If the property is in a co-op or condo building, check the bylaws for any restrictions on short-term rentals.
  • Ensure the property meets all fire safety requirements and has no outstanding violations.

2. Register with the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement (OSE).

  • Create an account on the OSE's Short-Term Rental Registration Portal.
  • Gather all required documents, including proof of primary residence, a diagram of the rental unit, and a signed affidavit of compliance.
  • Complete the online registration application and pay the $145 fee.
  • Wait for the OSE to review and approve the application, which can take several months.

3. Obtain necessary licenses and permits.

  • Register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to collect and remit sales taxes.
  • If the property is located outside of Manhattan, apply for a County Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax Certificate from the local Department of Finance.
  • Obtain any other licenses or permits required by the property's specific location and building type.

4. Set up the rental unit for guests.

  • Furnish the unit with all necessary amenities, such as furniture, linens, kitchenware, and toiletries.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in all required locations.
  • Post fire safety information and evacuation routes in a prominent location.
  • Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to maintain the unit between guests.

5. Create a detailed listing on a short-term rental platform.

  • Take high-quality photos of the rental unit and write an accurate, compelling description.
  • Highlight the unit's best features and amenities, as well as its location and proximity to local attractions.
  • Set a competitive nightly rate based on comparable listings in the area.
  • Clearly outline house rules and expectations for guests.

6. Manage bookings and communicate with guests.

  • Respond promptly to booking inquiries and guest questions.
  • Use a messaging platform or calendar system to keep track of reservations and avoid double bookings.
  • Send guests detailed check-in instructions and any necessary access codes prior to their arrival.
  • Be available to address any issues or concerns during the guest's stay.

7. Comply with all tax and record-keeping requirements.

  • Collect and remit all applicable state and local taxes on rental income.
  • Keep detailed records of all rental transactions and expenses for tax purposes.
  • File required tax returns and reports on time to avoid penalties.

8. Maintain proper insurance coverage.

  • Purchase short-term rental insurance to protect against property damage and liability claims.
  • Ensure the policy covers the full replacement cost of the rental unit and its contents.
  • Consider additional coverage for loss of rental income in case of unexpected damage or repairs.

Successfully operating a short-term rental business in New York City requires careful attention to detail and strict compliance with all regulations. Hosts should budget ample time and resources for the registration process, which can be lengthy and complex.

Providing exceptional customer service and maintaining a high-quality rental unit are key to attracting positive reviews and repeat bookings. Hosts should promptly address any maintenance issues or guest complaints to avoid negative feedback.

Keeping accurate records and staying up-to-date on tax obligations is crucial to avoid legal and financial penalties. Hosts should consult with a qualified tax professional to ensure they are meeting all requirements.

By following these steps and prioritizing compliance and guest satisfaction, hosts can build a successful short-term rental business in New York City despite the challenging regulatory environment. However, given the high barriers to entry, hosts should carefully weigh the potential risks and rewards before investing significant time and money into a short-term rental venture in the city.

Who to Contact in New York City about Short-Term Rental Regulations and Zoning?

For questions about short-term rental regulations and zoning in New York City, hosts should contact the following agencies and resources:

Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement (OSE):

The OSE is responsible for enforcing the Short-Term Rental Registration Law and investigating illegal short-term rentals in the city.

Phone: (212) 639-9675
Email: STRRegistration@cityhall.nyc.gov
Website: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/specialenforcement/index.page

NYC Department of Buildings (DOB):

The DOB oversees zoning regulations and issues certificates of occupancy for buildings in the city. Hosts can contact the DOB to determine if their property is legally zoned for short-term rentals.

Phone: (212) 393-2550
Website: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/buildings/index.page

NYC Department of Finance (DOF):

The DOF administers the Hotel Room Occupancy Tax and other taxes that apply to short-term rentals. Hosts can contact the DOF for questions about registering to collect and remit these taxes.

Phone: (212) 639-9675
Email: taxhelp@finance.nyc.gov
Website: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/index.page

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance:

Hosts must register with the state to collect and remit sales taxes on short-term rental income. The department can provide guidance on sales tax requirements and filing procedures.

Phone: (518) 485-2889
Website: https://www.tax.ny.gov/

In addition to these government agencies, hosts may find the following online communities and resources helpful:

Airbnb Hosting Forum:

This official forum allows hosts to connect with each other, share experiences, and ask questions about hosting on Airbnb. There is a dedicated section for New York City hosts.

Website: https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/New-York-City/bd-p/New-York-en

BiggerPockets Short-Term Rental Forum:

BiggerPockets is a popular real estate investing platform with a forum dedicated to short-term rental investing. Hosts can find discussions on regulations, marketing, and property management.

Website: https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/530-short-term-rental

Short Term Rental Advocacy:

This Facebook group is run by the Short Term Rental Advocacy Center, a non-profit organization that supports short-term rental hosts. The group provides updates on regulations and advocacy efforts in New York and other states.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/shorttermrentaladvocacy/

New York City Airbnb Hosts Facebook Group:

This private Facebook group is a place for Airbnb hosts in NYC to connect, share advice, and discuss local regulations and best practices.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nycairbnbhosts/

By engaging with these agencies and online communities, hosts can stay informed about the latest short-term rental regulations in New York City and connect with other hosts for support and advice. However, for specific legal guidance, hosts should consult with a qualified attorney who specializes in short-term rental law.

What Do Airbnb Hosts in New York City on Reddit and Bigger Pockets Think about Local Regulations?

New York City's strict short-term rental regulations have been a hot topic of discussion among Airbnb hosts on various online forums. Here are some real-life experiences and opinions shared by hosts on Reddit and Bigger Pockets:

Reddit - r/AirBnB - "NY Local Law 18 (Banning Short term Rentals)"

In this thread, a host who owns a 3-family home in Nassau County, NY shares their experience of receiving a $500 citation from the town for operating a "transient rental property" after a guest accidentally set off the security alarm, alerting the fire department. The host expresses frustration with the new law, feeling it's unfair and infringes on their property rights.

Many commenters sympathize with the host but emphasize the importance of complying with local regulations to avoid fines and legal consequences. Some suggest the host consider registering their property or switching to long-term rentals.

Reddit - r/AirBnB - "New Short-Term restrictions in New York. How are you hosts navigating these new laws??"

A first-time homeowner and new landlord in Nassau County shares their experience of successfully hosting on Airbnb for a year until a false alarm incident led to a $500 citation from the town and threats of fines up to $10,000 or jail time for continuing to operate. The host feels the new restrictions are unfair and asks for advice.

Commenters point out that the host should have been aware of the registration requirements and suggest either registering and paying the associated fees or ceasing operations to avoid penalties. Some express frustration with the influence of the hotel lobby on these regulations.

Bigger Pockets Forum - "AirBnB in New York City?"

In a thread from 2017, a user asks about the legality of short-term rentals in NYC, noting the strict laws. An NYC-based host responds, explaining that they operate Airbnbs in Jersey City instead due to the more favorable regulations.

The host emphasizes the importance of researching local laws and zoning regulations before starting a short-term rental business, as the penalties for non-compliance can be severe.

These forum discussions highlight the challenges and frustrations NYC hosts face in navigating the city's stringent short-term rental regulations. Many feel the laws are overly restrictive and unfairly target individual property owners, while others emphasize the importance of compliance to avoid costly fines and legal issues.

Hosts considering short-term rentals in NYC are advised to thoroughly research the applicable laws, register their properties if eligible, and weigh the potential risks and rewards before proceeding. Some hosts have chosen to operate in neighboring cities with more lenient regulations, while others have transitioned to long-term rentals to avoid the regulatory burden.

Overall, the sentiment among NYC hosts on these forums is that the city's short-term rental regulations are complex, burdensome, and often feel like an unfair infringement on property rights. However, most recognize the necessity of compliance to protect their investments and avoid legal consequences.

Disclaimer: While we here at BNBCalc strive to keep all of our city regulation guides updated and accurate with all the latest local laws, we still do not suggest using them as your sole or primary source for local regulations. We also do not recommend you rely on the third-party sources we link to or reference, and we are not responsible for any of the information on these third-party sites. These guides are for entertainment purposes only and only provide basic information and should not be considered as legal advice.

We highly recommend directly contacting the responsible parties for each city and hearing what their officials have to say. Ultimately, it's your responsibility as an investor to ensure you fully comply with the local laws, and it's best to speak with professionals before making an investment decision.

⚡️
Reveal your property’s rental profitability

Buy this property and list it on Airbnb.