New Bill About Illegal Sublets Makes Some People Very Cranky


Let’s say you’re going away for a week, or two, or even three, and want to make up some of your vacation money by renting your place to your mom’s friend or Uncle Gus, or maybe even putting it up on Craigslist? No dice, at least legally speaking, according to a new bill New York City legislators are considering that would make it against the law to sublet your apartment to anyone for less than a month — unless they are nonpaying guests there to take care of pets or water plants.

Senator Liz Krueger, who sponsored the bill, explained to the Times that individuals who sublet their apartments shouldn’t worry, though: “The law is aimed at target landlords who have improperly converted private units into commercial spaces, sometimes in violation of building codes.”

Well, it does sound like people who live in these improperly converted spaces have some, um, annoyances to deal with of their own. As one commenter writes on the Budget Travel blog,

I live in one of these apartment buildings where some apartments are being rented out by companies to tourists!! DISGUSTING!! I am praying this law passes and is strictly enforced!! In fact, I do not think it goes far enough!! This is my HOME and I don’t need streams of strangers coming here to stay. We New Yorkers need homes, let tourists stay in hotels!! Each apartment that is rented to one of these short term companies is one less home for the people who live and pay taxes here!!

Ouch. Don’t wanna live in her apartment.

Despite Krueger’s promises that they’re “not going to knock on doors” to bust your average Joe trying to make an extra couple hundred bucks while he’s visiting the folks in Des Moines, people are not taking this lightly. Perhaps because, you know, once a law’s a law, it is, in fact, a law. And can we think of another situation in which the city would allow us to just carry on as usual despite the law?

Legislators have apparently fussed over this legislation for three years and seem to be sick and tired of it, but since when do we give up and pass a bill even though it’s not quite right? (Don’t answer that.)

Interestingly (or not), the bill is supported not only by the always corporation-savvy Mayor Bloomberg, but also by various hotel associations — it doesn’t take much in the upstairs department to get that hotels lose money when renters and owners sublet their private accommodations. But if such a law prevents cash-strapped tourists from coming to the city at all, or prevents cash-strapped residents from spending money in the city, how are any of us helped? And if the law is not going to be enforced anyway, well … what’s the point?

As Sean O’Neill at Budget Travel puts it,

This new legislation sounds an awful lot like excessively strict jaywalking laws. It encourages ordinarily law-abiding people, like me, to break the law because the law is so inane. And prompting decent people to break the law is a bad thing.

If you don’t like the sound of this, you can sign the online petition here. Or you can call the state speaker’s office at 518-455-3791 to express your feelings about the bill, whether you’re in favor or against. The Assembly has yet to vote on it.

In the meantime, we know of a real nice place for a good price you might want to check out.