Regulation of the Day 130: Roommates
In New York City, it is illegal for four or more unrelated people to live together. At least 15,000 New York homes openly flout the rule.
The ranks of lawless hooligans cut across lines of class and race. According to the New York Times, violators “include young actors and ponytailed post-graduates; rising and falling junior investment bankers; immigrants, legal and illegal; and trend-obsessed residents in Brooklyn neighborhoods.”
The Times also interviewed a young film star who lives with five other people. He is not related to any of them.
People break the regulation to save money on rent. Given the cost of living in New York, this is a smart and prudent way to save money. It also leaves more housing left over for others, which helps to drive down housing costs.
Even better, if enough people pool their resources, they can afford to live in a larger home in a nicer neighborhood than they could pay for alone.
The city has the good sense to rarely enforce the rule – just three times since July, according to the Times. This is good. What would be better is to repeal it. When a law is almost universally regarded as counterproductive, not only should go unenforced, it should go away.