Brodsky challenges New York’s Airbnb law

An illustrative photo of Daniel Brodsky and 75 West End Avenue (Getty Images, Google Maps)

The Brodsky organization seems tired of being held accountable for the sins of its tenants.

Landlord filed a Section 78 complaint against the city and its short-term rental law enforcement, Crain’s reported. The lawsuit classification asks a state court to review a city law.

Brodsky’s lawsuit stems from the actions of a tenant who illegally used his Lincoln Square apartment as an Airbnb. The tenant at 75 West End Avenue broke the law that prohibits renting apartments for less than 30 consecutive days.

In the lawsuit, Brodsky claimed he did everything he could to stop the tenant’s actions, but still bore the brunt of the damages.

“It would be illegal in law for the landlord to simply extrajudicially evict the tenant after becoming aware of the illegal conduct,” the lawsuit said. “Still, this appears to be the only course open to the owner.”

Officials disagreed, saying Brodsky should have easily discovered the illegal scheme. Investigators used online advertisements in their case and said the apartment had been rented out on around 90 separate occasions; Brodsky claimed the ads were very vague.

Last April, Brodsky launched eviction proceedings against tenant Alvaro Reinoso, who was away this summer. A court, however, charged Brodsky with the sublease in January and an appeal upheld that decision in May, triggering the latest action.

Brodsky was fined $53,000, a small penance for most large property owners. But the company appears to be fighting a fight that could impact homeowners across the city and cause particularly significant damage to smaller homeowners with smaller coffers.

“We will review the documents, but we are confident that the courts will continue to uphold the laws that protect our accommodation and our visitors,” a spokesperson for the mayor said.

The fine may be the straw that broke Brodsky’s camel’s back. The landlord has sued tenants in the past for renting apartments illegally, suing a tenant last year at One Columbus Place.

The city’s enforcement of the short-term rental law leaves much to be desired. Profiteering is rampant, and some visitors don’t even know their stays are illegal, as the city struggles to police all illegal rentals.

The city has passed measures to avoid short-term rentals, but enforcement is difficult and the incentives to break the law are high. Mayor Eric Adams’ latest law aims to prevent people from using platforms like Airbnb without first registering with the city.

—Holden Walter-Warner

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