Monday, September 23, 2013

Knickerbocker Holiday

I like New York in June, how about you?

I also like New York in September, and apparently everyone else and his brother does, too.

So when we made a quasi last-minute decision to spend a bit of time in our favorite city in the world (other than Boston, at least for me), it was a bit difficult digging up digs.

For the last few trips we’ve made to The City, we’ve gone the short term apartment rental route, and have found interesting places, East Side, West Side, all around the town. We thought that, once again, we’d have our pick of location, and were focusing on Gramercy Park and the West Village.

Alas, we had left things pretty late. And we hadn’t factored in the recent crackdown on short term rentals that has resulted in, among other things, Airbnb being declared illegal.

Not that we were looking at Airbnb. They’re a bit too Millenial hipster for our tastes, and we’re not all that interested in throwing our sleeping bags down in someone’s living room.

But, thanks to the hotel industry – and landlords who weren’t thrilled with their tenants subletting, and condo and co-op owners who didn’t like finding strangers roaming their halls – the mellow of foregoing a hotel room in favor of a real apartment in a real neighborhood has been somewhat harshed. Fines have been levied, and plenty of rentees are running scared.

While we were looking around, I called a number for a listing that had one property with a 30 day minimum, and an indication that they had other places, as well. The woman that I spoke with – who sounded like the actual owner, not an intermediary – was almost tearful when she told me that anything less than 30 days was illegal.

Personally, I can see why a landlord wouldn’t want his renters turning around and doing short term sub-rentals. And co-op ownership is sufficiently weird that you don’t actually own your own place, so I can see them being finicky. But if you own a condo, why is renting it out any different than a homeowner on The Cape renting their place out for a few weeks during July? Or a condo owner in Vail renting their unit out when they’re not going to be there during ski season? As long as the taxes get paid… And as long as renters (that would be us) understand that, in dealing with some of the outfits that take care of the short term rentals, it’s caveat emptor.

(We almost bit on one place which looked pretty nice, only to find a couple of reviews that talked about the agency as doing some fine-print bait and switch: suckering people into a 10% discount, then putting them in terrible, totally sub-par rentals, which the renter had agreed to by taking the 10% discount. Thank you, Internet!)

Hypocritically, I must say that I wouldn’t want to see an endless parade of short-term renters revolving dooring it in our condo building. But NIMBY aside, surely an occasional “paying guest” is okay – especially in NYC, especially if that paying guest is me.

Anyway, it was looking as if our search might fail, and we were thinking of throwing in the towel and checking into a hotel, when we decided to take a chance on someone we had rented from before.  In the interest of diversifying the neighborhoods we “lived” in, we weren’t all that interested in going back there. But we had enjoyed the area, so…

Fortunately, they had just had a cancellation, and we were able to grab a flat in this nice little half resi-half commercial building (medical doctors and shrinks, and the property management company that we’re renting from) in a charming little neighborhood not far from Central Park on the Upper East Side.

We had to sign one more agreement than we had before, but, what the hell. I’m pretty sure that the owner/manager, while a mover, is on the up and up, crosses her t’s and dots her I’s, and pays her taxes. I gave the new form a scan, and we’re only on the hook for our week. We’ve done business with the owner/manager.  There’s nothing negative about her that I could find by going to the google. And if anything gets f’d up, she is just a blog post away from being savaged.

So I think we’re legal, but, ssshhhh, don’t start spreading the news.

We are looking forward to a week away from it all, which these days pretty much means we won’t be logging any hours at Mass General Hospital.

No plans, other than a lot of nice walks, a lot of nice meals, and a lot of nice chillaxin’ in our home away from home.

When we were in NY in July, the weather was putrid: 90’s and humid. So our walks were pretty much limited to out to lunch, out to dinner. Fortunately, there were plenty of excellent restaurants that were short hops from our pad. (The highlight of that trip, by the way, was running into Gloria Steinem on the street. We chatted with her for a few minutes, and she was quite gracious and charming. And let me tell you, we should all look that good at 79 years of age…)

So here we are, New Yorkers for the week.

We’ll trip the lights fantastic, on the sidewalks of New York.

No comments: