Airbnbs in New York become apartment rentals during coronavirus


I move too much. A series of events – a new job, a hostile roommate, the commotion – led me to live in four apartments in two years. These narrow leaks have gotten me into the habit of looking at Craigslist and Listings Project and Zillow at least a few times a week, just in case I need to pack my bags again. In my search for the spectacular yet affordable dream apartment, one with 20 years of rent stabilization and a separate kitchen as opposed to a cheap tile square in the corner of a living room, I noticed a new league of Homes in New York City Rental Market in COVID-19 Era: “Airbrbs, ” what I call the flurry of Airbnbs refurbished into rentals.

Without the usual tourists – and even after the company bailed out its hosts – the city’s Airbnb hosts took on the role of landlord to attract local renters until the vacation rental market rebounded (Airbrbs, you see). Most ads don’t admit the truth about their recent past, but Airbrbs are like obscenity – you know them when you see them. And their promise as a siren of free household and designer furniture is both intriguing and repulsive.

Once I noticed this phenomenon, I couldn’t stop obsessing about it. I ended up with one tab open on Craigslist’s “apartments / rental units” map and another showing the Airbnb map view, to see if I could spot an overlap. Some of these Airbrbs explicitly mention their origins, like this place in the East Village that was once a ‘high-end Airbnb’. The dominant themed decor gives it away, too: it features a ‘historic European design style’ as the listing goes, meaning around ten lamps per room, tapered candles all over the place, and a framed print of Vermeer. A girl with an earring.

Other ads that appear on both rental sites and make it clear that some hosts who become owners are unprepared for the rental market they are entering, optimistically asking for rents that would rival income. which they would earn by organizing a parade of short films. visitors to term. In an era when landlords are slashing rates and offering perks to attract new tenants, this one-bedroom East Village apartment, listed on Craigslist and Airbnb, comes with a sofa bed, bathtub on functional feet in the entryway and no kitchen sink (according to its Airbnb reviews), asking $ 1,950 per month. A few blocks away, apartments with full kitchens and toiletries where you’d expect them to go for a similar rate or even less.

Unlike many rentals that are coming onto the market, Airbrbs are furnished, albeit sparingly. There aren’t more than 25 books on the shelves, likely artist monographs or city guides, and the sofa is Ikea’s second cheapest option. There are four cups, four plates and four bowls in the cupboards. It is uncluttered. He is to clean. If you see a cat food dish next to the refrigerator, it isn’t an Airbrb.

In addition, an apartment with a sense of interior design may very well be a suspect. Think Knoll chairs, pink walls, vintage prints, and mid-century Danish furniture – classics of the Airbnb Plus genre. Neon signs saying ‘relax’ are also a giveaway, as are New York themed posters and cards, monstera plants and textile wall hangings, which make the owner feel like the owner has spent it all. his budget on Etsy.

These Airbrbs often offer monthly rents, sometimes with the option of year-round leases, but do not promise anything beyond that. A typical ad reads: “A 1-3 month deal with the option of month-to-month extension is preferable, but different arrangements are possible for the right tenant. It’s clear these places will be back to Airbnbs if and when our coronavirus moment passes – once a vaccine appears and Broadway reopens. (One owner told me exactly that, admitting that she rented through Airbnb until March.)

The benefits are another obvious Airbrb giveaway. Monthly cleaning services or free toiletries (a now-expired list offered by built-in Malin + Goetz) may be important for vacationers, but these are freak offers for longer-term renters. The focus on providing linens and other textiles should also arouse suspicion – rolled up bath towels arranged over a duvet give me a break. If I can avoid using a stranger’s pillowcase, I will.

It can also be a sign if parties to the ad write that they live downstairs or nearby, or note that they “love to travel”. Airbrbs are offered ‘by the owner’, not a broker, and the authors’ self-descriptions show some of the friendliness that Airbnb encourages, noting the apartment’s proximity to tourist attractions like Times Square or the Friends house – details that long-term renters usually wouldn’t include. Apartments tend to be located in impressive neighborhoods that Airbnb would describe as’ bohemian, historic, [and] hip. ”The Airbrbs are also full of beds – sofa beds, daybeds, bunk beds, and air mattresses – that have helped them fall into the“ sleeps four ”category of the Airbnb website.

I admit being tempted by some of these Airbrbs. What would it be like to live on someone else’s carefully curated getaway? But even the stylish ones – green walls or velvet sofas – are to someone else’s taste, not mine. I imagine myself carefully handling vintage record players and Sonos sound systems, afraid of breaking a button. Then there is the question of whether I would be able to keep the plants alive. But it’s good, in a way, that so many Airbnb hosts have decided to leave their Le Creuset kettles and PlayStation behind, because we all really need them right now, and I can’t find a Nintendo Switch. nowhere.


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