This month, thousands of New Yorkers will hand over their apartment keys to strangers, making a few extra bucks by renting out their homes when they head out of town.
But they might not know they're actually breaking a city law. A law that went into effect this past May bans renting out apartments for fewer than 30 days.
The law was created to target residential buildings illegally converted into makeshift hotels, but still applies to those who rent out their room for a night or two on popular sites like Airbnb.com.
Presumably, the point is to protect hotels and hotel tax revenue.
We were in New York this weekend, and we took an architectural tour of some recent skyscrapers. The tour guide said that the way to get rich is to be a zoning lawyer. He also said that a lot of zoning issues end up being resolved politically, that is by developers buying off politicians.
The result is to make real estate in New York a field for crony capitalism. And it is not surprising that any attempt by anyone to try genuine capitalism is likely to run afoul of the law.