NYC Gets Tough on Airbnb Brokers

Posted on Jan 15, 2019 in Business Litigation

The City of New York hit Metropolitan Property Group, a real estate brokerage firm, with a $21 million law suit yesterday, accusing the firm of using Airbnb to illegally rent apartments in over 30 buildings in Manhattan. According to the complaint, the Metropolitan Property Group facilitated over 13,000 rentals through Airbnb, housing more than 75,000 guests from 2015 to 2018. The suit, reportedly the largest of its kind brought by the city, alleges that the defendant used a complex web of 18 corporate entities and fake identities on Airbnb to convert 130 apartments in the buildings into de facto hotel rooms.

Under New York law, it is illegal to rent apartments in most buildings for less than 30 days unless the actual tenant is present in the apartment during the rental. The action is intended to send a strong message to Airbnb renters — that commercial operators should not be able to use the service to turn residential apartments into illegal hotels for tourists as it hurts the residential and hotel business because it takes units off the market and aggravates the city’s housing shortage.

There is obviously a need for the legislature to pass a comprehensive, statewide bill that prohibits those commercial renters while protecting the rights of regular New Yorkers who are responsibly sharing their apartment. Stay tuned as we are at the beginning of resolving this highly contested issue …

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