Anyone who lives in a city that is a popular tourist destination has likely played host to a procession of family, friends, friends-of-family, and other assorted houseguests over the years. It's something of a running joke in places like New York City, where even a tiny, bare-bones hotel room is likely to cost more than $200 per night.
To address this—and even capitalize on it—some New Yorkers are participating in 'apartment exchanges,' trading nights in their apartment for nights in other apartments in other destination cities like Chicago, San Francisco, or Miami. Some even do it internationally, swapping flats with Londoners or Parisians instead of springing for a pricey hotel room in those cities.
Apartment exchanges—short-term rentals to bypass hotel rentals—have been going on in New York as long as people have owned apartments. The advent of the Internet, with its plethora of websites like VRBO.com and Craigslist, has made finding potential renters easier. And the grim economic climate provides plenty of incentive to make a few bucks when possible. “New York is a popular destination, and the hotels are very expensive,” explains Geoffrey Mazel, a partner with the Manhattan law firm of Hankin & Mazel PLLC.
While the idea of trading homes for a week or two is a pretty sweet deal for apartment owners, it poses some serious issues for building boards and neighbors regarding security, property values, and zoning laws, just to name a few. And not to mention that despite the economic allure, even if boards are tempted to turn a blind eye towards the practice of short-term rentals, it’s actually against state law.
So, while there is isn't exactly an epidemic of illegal short-term rentals going on in the five boroughs, the practice most certainly does exist. “In the condo world, it’s becoming more common,” says Mazel. “In the co-op world, it’s still pretty rare.”