In most cases, no. Most apartment in New York City are classified as Class A dwellings, and according to Chapter 225 of the Laws of New York, 2010, “A class A multiple dwelling shall only be used for permanent residence purposes.”
Permanent residence is defined as 30 days or more. A lease cannot be issued for a lesser period, and renting an apartment without a lease contravenes the law.
Class B apartments, which includes single-room occupancy buildings, may be rented for less than 30 days.
You can find out whether an apartment is Class A or B by viewing a particular building’s certificate of occupancy on the Buildings Department’s Web site (nyc.gov/buildings).
That doesn’t stop many thousands of visitors from renting an NYC apartment in Class A buildings.
The person you are renting from is likely to offer an assurance, along the lines of “You’ve nothing to worry about, everyone does it”, and the majority of visitors who rent will have a happy experience.
If you rent such an apartment and are unlucky enough to be snagged in the legal dragnet, it is the lessee rather than you who will face the wrath of the law, although you might be turfed out at short notice.
However a problem might arise if you were to make an insurance claim based on your occupancy of a Class A building.
If you fall down the stairs and break a leg or if the apartment is burgled, your travel insurer might decide that you were not a legal occupant, and decline your claim.
Also, if the apartment you’re renting doesn’t come up to scratch – or worse still, doesn’t exist – there is no legal recourse.