New York City Files Lawsuit over Illegal Airbnb Operation
On Tuesday, July 12th, Mayor Eric Adams’ Administration filed a lawsuit against an illegal Airbnb operation that turned an apartment building in Manhattan into a hotel.
The suit has been filed against real-estate broker Arron Latimer after it was discovered that he opened several Airbnb accounts with false identities to establish an illegal short-term rental operation.
City Hall filed a 41-page lawsuit against Latimer and several LLCs that were employed by Apex Management’s team. A press conference was held in front of 344 East 51st Street, which was one of the apartment buildings in Manhattan in which the short-term rental scheme was conducted.
Latimer, according to records obtained by Airbnb, has operated 78 listings. Over the past four years, it is estimated that Latimer was given over $2 million from Airbnb.
In New York City, it is illegal for residential spaces to be rented out for periods shorter than a month without the owner of the space being present. In addition to the illegal renting scheme, Latimer and Apex have also been cited as violating fire safety in the building units.
Mayor Adams, who was present at the press conference on Tuesday, said, “There are multiple violations, including hazardous conditions.
It’s something that puts individuals in jeopardy for the safety and public health.” In the 41-page lawsuit, guests of the illegal listings are mentioned to have complained of “mold, soiled linens, and blood stains” in the units as well as calling them “astonishingly dirty.”
Adams mentioned that rental schemes such as the one addressed in the lawsuit affect New York City’s hospitality and tourism industries.
Christian Klossner, Head of the Office of Special Enforcement for Mayor Adams, said, “They take housing away from New Yorkers, they endanger the tourists who book and stay there and they disrupt the quality of life for our neighbors.
The lawsuit was filed in the New York State Supreme Court after Latimer and Apex Management refused to stop the rental scheme.
Still on lawsuit over Illegal Airbnb Operation….
City agencies, once aware of the situation, contacted Latimer in an effort to stop the operation without litigation but were met with defiance.
In regards to the resistance, Adams said, “The defendants continued to run the operation, really thumbing their nose at the law, and we’re saying that this thumbing of the nose at the law is ending.”
Their actions during the operation, including creating multiple Airbnb host accounts under fake names, using stock images for profile photos and listings, false host descriptions, and the use of various LLC’s with different bank accounts for payments allow for a case to be brought citing that the defendants were notably aware that the operation was illegal and actively trying to hide or disguise their activities.
As a real-estate broker, Latimer was aware of the New York state and city laws, but continued to run the illegal Airbnb operation. A statement from Airbnb claims the company “banned” Latimer, Apex Management, and the various LLCs they used months prior to the lawsuit.
Many have applauded Mayor Adams for taking action against illegal operations within the city. Housing, specifically, is an issue his administration has promised to tackle in New York City.
“Today we’re sending a message: This kind of lawlessness will not be tolerated in our city,” said Adams.