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Manhattan’s fierce hotel market just lost a set of competitors. New York Governor David Patterson signed a law July 23 that prohibits any apartment sublets or rentals shorter than 30 days. That means starting May 1, 2011, travelers won’t have the option of booking rooms off of sites like AirBnB.com or Roomorama, where tenants and condo owners have long hocked their temporarily vacant apartments to families and bargain-hunters trying to save cash on vacation. 

Travel-wise, this is a tricky issue. Although the policy is designed to protect New Yorkers from unwillingly living in illegal hotels, it also strips visitors of a valuable tool for finding lodging in the notoriously expensive city – not to mention that bedding down in a residential neighborhood almost always allows for a more authentic travel experience than holing up in a cramped Times Square room.

Happily, there are still a couple of ways left to live like a real New Yorker. Most notably, the law doesn't apply to "hosted visits," which means that when the owner of an apartment is home, he or she may still rent out any spare rooms. The policy also permits home swaps, as long as no money is exchanged, and retains brownstone owners' full property rights.

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