City Reaches $ 1.2 Million Settlement Against Owners Operating Illegal Airbnbs
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Blasio’s administration has settled lawsuits against two Manhattan owners accused of operating illegal Airbnbs, the mayor’s office said on Wednesday, with a total settlement value of more than $ 1.2 million.
The lawsuits accused landlords of illegally converting permanent homes into short-term rentals in violation of city law.
The lawsuits were led by the Mayor’s Office for Special Enforcement, which is tasked with cracking down on “harmful illegal and unregulated industries” such as the short-term rental market.
“The settlements today send a clear message that illegal hotels will not be tolerated in our city and those who operate them will be punished,” City Council Chairman Corey Johnson said in a statement. “I am proud that the Council voted to strengthen the Office of Special Enforcement to facilitate the search for offenders. Illegal hotels are a nuisance in our communities and are taking away affordable housing at a time when we desperately need it. I thank the Office of Special Enforcement for their work on this issue, as well as the Blasio administration and my fellow Council members for their unwavering commitment to bringing these illegal hotels out of use.
City and state law strictly regulates the ability of homeowners to use platforms like Airbnb to rent short-term permanent housing stock for profit. Owners cannot rent apartments for less than 30 consecutive days, unless the host is staying in the apartment with the guest during that time.
New York argues that this is necessary to prevent apartments, including rent-stabilized housing and other affordable housing, from being quietly withdrawn from the rental market and turned into de facto hotel rooms, thereby reducing the housing stock by the city while allowing owners to achieve greater profits.
The most important settlement has been reached with Big Apple Management, which will have to pay the city more than $ 700,000 to resolve the complaint, filed in 2018, accusing the company and its owner, Maxine Gilbert, of having authorized 90 units in seven buildings on West 47th Street in Hell’s Kitchen to advertise and rent on Airbnb.
In addition, Big Apple is accused of having authorized the short-term rental of 33 other apartments on Airbnb in buildings not targeted by the lawsuit.
The other settlement was against Rose King, who reached a $ 516,000 deal with the city to settle a 2017 lawsuit related to her leasing at least a dozen units in three buildings on the Lower East Side on Airbnb. King used 34 separate accounts to lease the units.
Gilbert had denied knowing that the units were rented, claiming instead that it was done by “professional operators”, while King did not deny the rental of the units but claimed that she did not know the activity was illegal. , according to The Real Deal. .
The city also announced a separate $ 10,000 settlement with SoHo Lofts NYC, which was one of the defendants in a similar lawsuit involving units in four buildings in East Village. The owner of the buildings, 219 Av A NYC, has displaced permanent residents through “a variety of illegal uses,” including allowing SoHo lofts to advertise and rent units as “co-op spaces”. living ”.
“Illegal short-term rental deals take many forms, but OSE is here to hold landlords and operators accountable and to preserve housing for New York families,” said Christian Klossner, executive director of OSE, in a press release.
An Airbnb spokesperson declined to comment on the regulations.