Airbnb’s wolf accused of short-term rental scam
He calls himself the wolf of Airbnb.
Konrad Bicher, 30, is making his fortune allegedly running an illegal Airbnb operation in Manhattan while skipping hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent, according to multiple landlords who say they’ve been threatened by the so-called scammer.
The short-stay mogul has repeatedly claimed Covid rent difficulties and tried to bolster landlord buyouts, knowing eviction bans and court backlogs were giving him the upper hand, landlords claim.
“He’s using the eviction moratorium against landlords, knowing it will take months, if not years, to evict him…basically he’s making even more profit,” said a landlord who requested anonymity. because he fears reprisals.
In court filings, Bicher has denied making illegal short-term rentals, even though his Instagram page says he considers himself the Jordan Belfort of Airbnb rentals. When contacted by The real dealhe did not respond to questions about the specific allegations against him.
The only question he answered directly was about his lupine label.
“Airbnb Wolf: Means someone who is hungry and ruthless enough to climb to the top of the financial ladder,” he wrote in a text. “They liken ferocity to that of a wolf, because wolves are territorial, vicious, and show no mercy when provoked.”
On Bicher’s social media accounts, influencer-style photos show him enjoying private jets and exotic vacation spots. But court records paint a picture of a deadbeat who doesn’t pay his rent and refuses to leave when his lease expires.
In legal documents, landlords say he owes about $450,000 in rent dating back to at least February 2020. In at least five different cases, Bicher has given hardship statements saying he couldn’t pay his rent. because of the pandemic, according to court records.
Landlord Michael Aryeh filed lawsuits claiming Bicher owed more than $223,000 for four apartments in West Harlem.
Bicher rented the apartments in early 2020 but failed to pay and refused to vacate the units a year after his leases expired, filings show.
“Based on what my property manager told me, he’s using the pandemic as well as the eviction moratorium to not pay rent as he manages to Airbnb the apartments and profits from each room in addition to ‘add illegal rooms to maximize his profit’, Aryeh said TRD by email.
Most of the apartments Bicher rents are in Upper Manhattan. A few can be found in Hell’s Kitchen and the West Side.
But exactly where Bicher rests his head is a mystery. In fact, he and his attorney had two lawsuits dismissed because the owners’ process servers couldn’t track him down to serve him properly. A landlord claimed in court records that Bicher would stay in the MiMa luxury rental tower on West 42nd Street.
The landlords claim that in addition to unpaid rent, Bicher’s Airbnb operations have led to city violations on their properties.
Short-term rentals without the regular owner or tenant present have been banned in New York City since 2011, when state lawmakers prohibited renting an entire apartment for less than 30 days. However, this did little to reduce the use of sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, so in 2016 the state made it illegal to advertise illegal short-term rentals.
However, enforcement remained difficult and focused primarily on landlords, although illegal short-term rentals were also often orchestrated by tenants.
The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement prosecuted property managers and landlords suspected of running illegal hotels. The Department of Buildings can impose fines of up to $7,500 per violation.
In 2020, Airbnb entered into an agreement with the city in which the company agreed to share listing information with hosts’ names, phone numbers, addresses, and other details about the places they rent.
Airbnb debuted as a public company later that year. Its latest earnings report showed net profit was $834 million in the third quarter, up 280% year-over-year.