Renting Your Home Out, By the Hour

March 10, 2017

New York Times
By Ronda Kaysen

Like other New Yorkers, Alex Story occasionally rents out her home through Airbnb, relinquishing her East Village townhouse to strangers who sleep in her bed, eat in her kitchen and lounge on her sofa. But she has found a less intrusive way to profit from her property: She rents it out by the hour, instead.


Proponents of these new sites see hourly rentals as a way to avoid the legal quagmire of vacation rentals, which can run afoul of state and city occupancy laws. However, commercial use of a residential space could raise other thorny legal issues. Operating a de facto party business out of an apartment in a residential neighborhood could violate city zoning codes or a building’s certificate of occupancy. Most residential leases prohibit commercial uses of an apartment. And co-op and condo buildings have similar restrictions. “There are all kinds of issues,” said Phyllis H. Weisberg, a real estate lawyer and the managing partner of Montgomery McCracken’s New York office. “It’s problematic.”


So, as far as the neighbors are concerned, is a site like Peerspace really all that different from Airbnb? If your neighbor turns her living room into a venue for corporate retreats, the guests may leave at nightfall, but the vibe is still altered. “It used to be that you had a group of people, and this was going to be their homes, and they had a common interest in preserving it,” Ms. Weisberg said. “Now, that’s gone.”


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