New Yorkers who want to rent out their home before fewer than 30 days while heading out of town this summer could be opening the door to legal trouble. NY1's Real Estate reporter Jill Urban filed the following report.
Memorial Day is the official start of the summer travel season. Many New Yorkers will be heading out of town, and some will be looking to turn their vacant homes into a source of extra cash. But homeowners need to remember that if the rental is for a short-term basis, it is against the law.
"There is a short-term lease law that prohibits rentals for less than 30 days. The law was beefed up in 2011 and is still out there. So if you've forgotten about it, you should pay attention," says Steven Wagner, a real estate attorney for Porzio, Bromberg and Newman.
Even though there are websites out there that help facilitate short-term home rentals, they are still illegal. It is part of the multiple dwellings law that outlines specific requirements for buildings that can be used as a hotel. Fines for a first offense can range from $800-$2,400 and go up for repeat offenders.
Wagner also wants to remind homeowners that not only are short-term leases illegal, but they are most likely prohibited by the building.
"If you decide to do it anyway, in addition to the fines, you may be in violation of your building's rules or your lease and have your co-op or condo or landlord, as the case may be, take action against you to, a) stop you or b) get you out of the apartment," Wagner says.
Many people have no idea this practice is illegal, and those who do and choose to do it anyway assume it is hard to get caught. That is not true, as there is an inter-agency task force that patrols those sites undercover and enforces this law.
Also, upset neighbors or building workers could easily put a call into 311 and report it.
There are some exceptions to the law, however.
"If you live in a two-family house, it's not a multiple dwelling, so the multiple dwelling law doesn't apply. Also, if you are going to rent out a room while you are in your apartment, that's OK," says Wagner.
Rentals that are longer than 30 days are also allowed, but before homeowners do so, Wagner advises they first clear it with the building.
So New Yorkers should not always assume they can cash in when they head out of town.