Montauk owner racks up Airbnb violations

64 South Elroy Drive in Montauk (Google Maps, iStock)

UPDATE July 7, 2022, 11:38 a.m.: For some city dwellers who had long dreamed of owning a vacation home in the Hamptons but were deterred by the expense, Airbnb became the financial bridge that made it possible. Short-term rentals through the platform could cover the mortgage and operating costs, while allowing owners plenty of time to enjoy the home on the days it hasn’t been rented out.

But the East End towns weren’t so enamored with the concept. Renters who stayed a month or all summer have long been part of Hamptons culture, but not Airbnb guests who would come for a night or three, with a group of 20-somethings in tow. Local officials have therefore adopted measures to curb this practice.

A Brooklyn resident and movie pundit who tried the Airbnb approach to Montauk finds out the hard way.

East Hampton Town has accused Harvey Elgart and his 64 S. Elroy LLC, owner of 64 South Elroy Drive, of repeatedly breaking the law on the city’s rental registry, the East Hampton Star. reported. Elgart and the LLC have been slapped with no less than 57 tickets over the past nine months.

City code allows a maximum of two rental stays of less than two weeks in any six month period. An investigation of Airbnb records, however, revealed that the owners of the property had rented it out 55 times in nine months from last May, raising more than $100,000 in the process, according to the publication.

The consequences are potentially severe: the maximum penalty is over $200,000 in fines and can include incarceration.

A number of towns in New York’s weekend communities on the East End and upstate to have past orders reduce short-term rentals in response to complaints from neighbors about loud parties and other rowdy behavior.

Elgart and the LLC, registered to a Brooklyn address, are expected to be arraigned in early August. It seems to be the same Harvey Elgart who for years purchased and restored old woman movie theater in Cobble Hill, WilliamsburgKew Gardens and Mamaroneckand had property interests in other properties.

The real deal tried Elgart at Cobble Hill Cinemas, where an employee referred the investigation to Elgart’s attorney, Lawrence Kelly of Bayport, which was Fight Montauk Rental Registry for years.

Kelly said via email that the city obtained Airbnb records incorrectly and, in any event, Elgart’s Montauk property is a cottage that was historically rented for short periods and should not be subject to the fines imposed.

According to Behind the hedges, the half-acre property in Montauk features two units. Elgart bought it in 2017 for $2.1 million and transferred the deed to the limited liability company at the end of 2020. From 2020 to 2021, the property was rented out at $20,000 per month.

The house seems to include two separate living areas. One has a kitchen and the other has a kitchenette with a view of Fort Pond. There is also an outdoor day bed and stairs that lead down to the pond.

In East Hampton, rental properties must be registered with the city. This year the city created an additional category for seasonal renters that allows landlords to circumvent a state law that prevented them from requiring payment of more than one month’s rent upfront.

The new rules require landlords to tell the city the names of tenants and the length of their stay. Owners must also show proof of permanent residency. The city’s rental register dates from 2016.

This article has been updated with a response from Elgart’s attorney.

[East Hampton Star] —Holden Walter-Warner

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