Anyone who lives in a city—or across a river from one—that is a popular tourist destination has likely played host to a procession of family, friends, friends-of-family, and other assorted houseguests over the years. To address this (and sometimes make a little money off their unit) some New Jerseyans are participating in 'apartment exchanges'—trading nights in their condo for nights in other places and destination cities like Chicago, San Francisco, or Miami. Some even do it internationally, swapping flats with Londoners or Parisians instead of springing for a pricey hotel room in those cities.
Incentives …and Objectives
While the idea of trading homes for a week or two is a pretty sweet deal for apartment owners, it poses some issues for building boards and neighbors regarding security, property values, and zoning laws, just to name a few.
Apartment exchanges—short-term rentals to bypass hotel rentals—have been going on as long as people have owned apartments. The advent of the Internet, with its plethora of websites like VRBO.com and Craigslist, has made finding potential renters easier. And the grim economic climate provides plenty of incentive to make a few bucks when possible. “New York is a popular destination, and the hotels are very expensive,” explains Geoffrey Mazel, a member of the New York-based law firm of Hankin & Mazel PLLC. The same can be said of Hoboken (the sixth borough), Weehawken, and the tonier towns along the Jersey Shore.
So, while there is hardly a profusion of illegal short-term rentals going on in the tri-state area, the practice does exist. “In the condo world, it’s becoming more common,” says Mazel. “In the co-op world, it’s still pretty rare.”
One of the reasons it’s rare is that it’s often done quietly, so we don’t necessarily know that it’s taking place. If a Hoboken stockbroker swaps addresses with a banker from Montmartre for a long weekend, it behooves both parties to keep it on the down-low. “Usually it’s done through word-of-mouth, or else on Craigslist,” Mazel says. “It’s more frequent than I’ve seen it in the past.”