squatters put foreclosed house on Airbnb
In this section of Bayside, Queens – the streets are leafy – there are even white picket fences. It’s as suburban a scene as the city is.
It was a completely different scene when gunshots rang out around 3am last Saturday. Police say a teenager was shot dead on his way to a party.
“The guns started being pulled out and 20+ shots is enough,” said Bayside resident Stephen Markowski.
Markowski has lived nearby on 38th Avenue for 22 years — he says it’s always been pretty quiet. That is, until his neighbor’s house is seized. About two years ago he noticed a lot of people coming and going from the house – which was vacant.
“We said, ‘Look, it’s probably squatters, renting it out on Airbnb.’ Sure enough, we go on Airbnb. There it is, the house,” Markowski said.
An Airbnb listing, which has been removed, advertised “keep it simple in this peaceful and central location”.
“The squatters have gotten creative and they’re creating new accounts and they keep popping up. We have therefore been in contact with Airbnb to take a more proactive approach to ensure that these listings do not reappear,” said Senator Edward Braunstein, who represents the region.
An Airbnb spokesperson told NY1 the company takes this very seriously and has suspended listings and canceled reservations at the property pending a full investigation. Senator John Liu says the city must now intervene.
“Specifically the Department of Buildings, to go and see what’s going on in this house. And issue an evacuation order, get these people out,” Liu said.
A Department of Buildings spokesperson told NY1 that the agency does not issue evacuation orders simply because something in the property is illegal or because of landlord-tenant disputes that should be adjudicated by housing court. He added that DOB inspectors will be dispatched to the building in the coming days to investigate recent 311 complaints about work being done without a permit.
As for the former owner of the house, John Carollo, he says he gave up all his rights when the house was seized in 2018.
“It’s long before the squatters took over this house. Alright. There’s nothing I can do about it. My hands are tied,” Carollo said.
The CEO of American Mortgage IP, which currently holds title to the house, said the house is expected to go up for auction in June. He says the situation in Bayside is an example of a big problem endemic to New York – how long it takes to seize property.
NY1 tried to speak to whoever lives here now – but as two cars were parked in the driveway – no one answered the door.