Brookfield sues 315 West 33rd Street tenants, alleging illegal Airbnb operation – Business Observer

Brookfield sued the tenants Mei Wu, Rui Wang, Wei Zheng Peng, Aaron Chan and Hungarian Zheng on Friday after the group reportedly rented nine apartments through Airbnb in the 333-unit Midtown West building, dubbed The Oliviaand refused to quit even after Brookfield found out, according to court records.

The scheme began in 2020 when Wu and Wang first rented a unit in the building and then began listing it on Airbnb, according to the complaint filed in New York County Supreme Court. Brookfield learned the duo were running the operation in 2021 thanks to the smart-lock company Latchwhich showed strangers entering the unit for short stays.

“Building reception staff observed a continuous parade of strangers arriving with luggage and informing reception staff that they were there to check into an Airbnb in the building,” the complaint reads. . “Tenants of the building have repeatedly complained about noise and smoke coming from the apartments, as well as strangers wandering the halls of the building and being locked outside the apartments.”

Brookfield hit Wu and Wang with an eviction notice in August 2021, and the couple only left after the landlord took them to court, records show. Wu and Wang then allegedly enlisted the other three residents to join the program, with several remaining in their apartments despite the evictions and at least one Airbnb guest refusing to leave, according to court records.

It’s unclear how much money the group made, but an apartment in the building listed on Airbnb fetches $528 per night, according to the list. The property’s rental units range from $4,100 per month for a studio to $8,000 per month for a two-bedroom, according to StreetEasy.

Brookfield asked a judge to bar the group from continuing to rent apartments in the building and pay more than $70,000 in back rent and legal fees, with Brookfield saying Chan and Zheng owed a total of $20. $000 in skipped rent, the lawsuit said.

Airbnb and an attorney for the five residents did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Brookfield and his attorney declined to comment.

But Brookfield could face fines, not just missed rent, according to the filing, because New York City has cracked down on illegal Airbnb listings for a few years. In 2018, the city sued the owner of seven Hell’s Kitchen buildings for failing to shut down an illegal Airbnb operation, even though the owner Maxine Gilbert claimed that she didn’t know about rentals were occurring and in violation of State Lawwhich prohibits renting an apartment for less than 30 days in most cases.

Last year, New York City passed a law requiring short-term rental sites give them information on hosts and transactions. Short-term rental operators will face new regulations next year after a new rule comes into force requiring hosts to register with the city and prevent Airbnb from processing payments if their information does not match the city’s registry.

Célia Young can be contacted at [email protected].

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