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When an Illegal Airbnb Case Makes Short Work of a Non-Primary Residence Situation


October 14, 2018

As I have often written about in these pages, Non-Primary Residence cases are hard cases, for landlords and for tenants. I have also written extensively in these pages about evictions for illegal Airbnb. In this blog post I am connecting the two concepts. It has been my observation that many non-primary resident Rent Stabilized tenants turn to Airbnb.

In the story I am sharing with you today, the tenant had moved out of the subject apartment and in with a life partner. He put the apartment on Airbnb. I was able to get him to surrender the apartment with only a notice, albeit my notice was 12 pages long and a work of art.

The tenant had been on the platform since 2015. I included pictures from the listing in the notice. Tenant had made the apartment look stunning. It had a crushed red velvet couch! 

Camera surveillance revealed the following:

  • 56 nights with Airbnb guests (76% of the surveillance time)
  • 1 possible overnight stay by Tenant (Tenant present 1% of the time)
  • 32 Different Airbnb groups at least (on average, a new group in at least every 2 days)
There were several user reviews listed on the Airbnb website that indicated that tenant did not stay in the apartment while guests were there, and I included about ten of them in my notice. Indeed, this Rent Stabilized tenant was a “Super Host”. He was booked solid for the next three months. A fact I also included in my notice.

In one flourishing touch, within the notice I matched the surveillance footage with its corresponding Airbnb user review for certain guests in the past year. I did a few other unique things with this notice as well, which can remain a story for another day.

The tenant was wildly profiteering on what was supposed to be affordable housing. I calculated that this guy made six figures on his illegal Airbnb, which I also included in my notice. 

When he got my notice, he handed in the keys. The apartment remains Rent Stabilized today, occupied by a real tenant.

What’s the lesson?

Had the tenant in this tale just engaged in a regular illegal sublet during his non-prime phase, the case would have been typically long and difficult. When Airbnb is involved in a non-prime situation, however, recovering the apartment for landlord is much easier.

Respectfully submitted,

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