Short-Term Rental Regulations in New York State
By Nathan Guss|7 min|January 2024
For anyone operating or considering a short-term rental (STR) business in New York, understanding the regulatory environment is crucial. The Empire State currently doesn’t have a uniform statewide STR policy. That said, many cities across the state have set their own rules. As a result, operators need to be aware of and comply with a variety of regulations that can vary significantly from one town to another. To give you an idea of what to expect in your town, here is a cross section of rules in various types of municipalities: the gargantuan city of New York, a mid-size city in the Western part of the state, and a college town in the Southern Tier.
Proposed Statewide Regulations
While the state of New York currently doesn’t have rules governing STRs, this may soon change with a bill that passed the state senate in June 2023. Introduced by state senator Michelle Hinchey, it would set up a short-term rental registry like those in other states. The legislation is designed to bring greater transparency to the STR market and help municipalities balance the economic benefits of STRs with the need to preserve local housing. The bill has yet to pass the Assembly or be signed by the governor, but be sure to keep tabs on it.
Many cities and towns in New York have their own policies. Read on for a sampling of a few different approaches.
New York City
New York’s stringent STR rules came into effect in September of 2023, garnering national press coverage. They have drastically reduced the number of short-term rentals in the city.
Along with new rules, New York City underscored its intent to enforce existing laws:
- Rentals for less than 30 days are only allowed if the host is present during the stay.
- No more than two guests are permitted at a time, and they must have access to the entire home.
What’s new is that STR operators are now required to register with the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement for a fee of $145. Be aware that you cannot register (and therefore you can’t rent out) rent-regulated and NYCHA units and those in buildings where the owners have prohibited STRs.
If you are operating an STR in New York or are interested in doing so, be sure you’re thoroughly acquainted with all the ins-and-outs of the city’s regulations. The penalties are steep—infractions can result in fines of up to $5,000 per day.
The City of Rochester’s short-term rental (STR) regulations, in effect since 2021, distinguish between owner-occupied rentals and those where the owner isn’t present. The city’s rules strike a balance between New York City’s strict regulations and the laissez-faire approach adopted in other cities.
The rules cover rentals for 30 days or less. Owner-occupied STRs are limited to one dwelling unit where the owner is present during the rental. Non-owner-occupied STRs require a certificate and inspection.
The regulations include specific guidelines for different property types, such as single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes, and larger multifamily buildings, with varying requirements for registration, inspections, and lodging licenses. I won’t get into the weeds here, but you can see the rules for the various property types on the city’s website.
Ithaca passed new STR rules in 2023 that limit unhosted rental nights. Most properties can be rented for 29 nights annually when the host isn’t on the property, although lakefront units have a 245-night limit. Property owners are restricted to two operating permits. You must submit your application by July 1, and properties need to pass an inspection. The limits don’t apply to units that are attached to the host’s home (unlike NYC, guests don’t need to have access to the entire dwelling in this setup).
New Rules Forthcoming?
You should be aware that the City of Ithaca is considering a new set of short-term rules for rentals of either 30 days or less. Three permit types are proposed: primary residence, seasonal, and occasional. The primary residence permit would allow renting out parts of a home or the entire residence without the owner being present for more than half the year. The seasonal permit would be for those interested in renting out a unit during peak tourism months, and the occasional permit would limit rentals to 14 days a year and be subject to fewer rules. The draft ordinance also includes regulations, such as an occupancy tax, inspection by city codes officers, permit requirements, and a complaint line for neighborhood issues. The cost of the permit is currently unavailable. There may be a grace period before the new rules apply if they are passed.
As these three different approaches show, STR regulations greatly vary and are still evolving. Furthermore, with state-level rules potentially on the way, it’s even more essential for anyone in the temporary rental business to fully grasp all local rules and keep an eye out for new developments. This post is a general overview and should not be construed as legal advice or the total picture of STR rules in New York state. For a more complete, fully up-to-date understanding, contact your local government or consult a real estate lawyer or specialist. Best of luck with your STR project!
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