New York City is suing a landlord who turned rent-stabilized apartments in his four-story Manhattan walk up into illegal hotels via Airbnb and other platforms, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
The mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement is bringing the lawsuit against 156 West 15th Street LLC, its head officer and managing agent Dr. Philip Baldeo and operator Miguel Guzman.
In Sept. 2017, officials found “illegal hotel use” in six out of the nine units inside the Chelsea building. Previously, in Aug. 2014, officials found that two of the units were being unlawfully rented through Airbnb.
The landlord continued to operate those illegal hotel rooms, according to the mayor’s office, at least 13 complaints since 2014, 23 building and fire violations, three criminal summonses and one advertising summons.
“There must be zero tolerance for illegal hotels,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson in a statement. “In addition to depleting our housing stock, illegal hotels put lives at risk by flouting the basic fire and safety regulations that apply to hotels. This lawsuit sends a strong message to landlords across the city that we will not tolerate such practices.”
This is the eleventh such lawsuit the city has brought against landlords or operators for illegal hotels. Last month, a landlord paid a $1.2 million lump sum, the largest settlement with the city in an “illegal hotel nuisance abatement case.”
“In the middle of an affordability crisis, every unit of affordable housing is vital, and represents the chance for a family to continue to call New York City home,” said Sen. Liz Krueger in a statement. “So when an unscrupulous landlord uses illegal hotel activity through Airbnb and other sites to squeeze out rent-regulated tenants, the city must put a stop to it. … Housing units should be used to make homes for real New Yorkers, not to line the pockets of landlords who flout the law.”