In New York, using Airbnb to rent out a spare room isn’t just frowned upon—it’s straight-up illegal, with a recently-enacted law imposing hefty fines on renters who are found to be breaking the law. (That regulation has been harder to enforce than was perhaps originally anticipated.)
But in New Jersey, the rules are a bit different: Per Jersey Digs, “State laws do not currently place any restrictions on owners who wish to rent their property out short-term, which means regulation choices are made at the local level and can vary wildly.” So it’s not quite so simple—but in Jersey City, at least, short-term rentals are legal, with Airbnb reaching an agreement to charge a small “hotel tax” on listings in the city.
Now, Airbnb is going one step further in its attempt to ingratiate itself with developers (and the cities they’re working in): It’s partnered with Ironstate Development, the firm behind Jersey City Urby, on what it’s calling the “Friendly Building Program.” Through that initiative, developers get a chunk of change from a building’s Airbnb hosts, who in turn will be able to rent their apartments through the platform without penalty.
So far, the company has rolled the program out in about 10,000 listings across the U.S., with Jersey City Urby being the first participant in the northeast, according to an Airbnb spokesperson.
“Having the ability to use home-sharing sites has become increasingly important to renters,” David Barry, the CEO of Ironstate, said in a statement. “By aligning with Airbnb, Jersey City Urby is able to give residents this option, as well as simplify the hosting process so they can enjoy their time away from home.”
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Barry identified another reason why renters at Urby may want to utilize the service: the cost of living there. Studios are currently going from $2,000/month, with a two-bedroom renting for as much as $3,400/month—which isn’t all that far off from, say, rents in Brooklyn or Queens. Renting a room on Airbnb in the short term could prove lucrative for building tenants.
And according to the WSJ, Barry “concluded that many younger renters already had experience as either rental hosts or customers at home-sharing sites”—thus, this could be packaged as yet another possible perk for the demographic Ironstate is courting with its amenity-packed Urby developments.
The Jersey City project offers perks like an in-building coffee shop, a communal kitchen, a heated pool, and a “scientist-in-residence,” which are meant to entice potential tenants. Under the new partnership, those perks would also be available to guests who’ve booked through Airbnb.
Still, Barry stressed to the WSJ that the program is still in the early phases: the company will “re-evaluate the program based on the results of tenant surveys.”