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Manhattan couple hit with $1M fine for illegal Airbnb listings

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The couple is planning to fight back and may join in on a class-action lawsuit against the city

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The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement has handed down a $1 million judgement to a couple that used websites like Airbnb to illegally list at least seven units within Manhattan buildings, reports Politico (h/t The Real Deal).

In 2014, the city hit Mina Guirguis and Szilvia Patkos with a lawsuit for illegally operating as a hotel under the guise of City Oases LLC, renting out apartments within the buildings at 5 West 31st Street and 59 Fifth Avenue for fewer than 30 days. Since Governor Andrew Cuomo passed legislation that imposes fines up to $7,500 on Airbnb users who advertise illegal short-term rentals, the city has been cracking down on offenders.

Earlier this year, the city brought a lawsuit against the landlord of a four-story walk-up at 156 West 15th Street, for operating the building as an illegal hotel despite numerous complaints, enforcement actions, and fines. In December 2017, a Lower East Side building owner had to pay the city $1.2 million as settlement in a suit for allegedly renting out several apartments in three buildings, making it the largest ever settlement with the city regarding an illegal hotel case.

In a statement to Politico, Guirguis and Patkos stated that their business was legal and that the city unfairly targeted them. The pair are planning on working to bring a class action suit against the city with other groups of short-term rental hosts that have been penalized, citing “unlawful vacate orders, evictions, and unfair prosecutions.”