New York City is continuing its crackdown on illegal hotel operators and has announced a new lawsuit against three illegal hotel operators in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens that are accused of using multiple host accounts with false identities to advertise at least 15 apartments in in seven different buildings. This is the first suit to be filed against illegal operators in multiple boroughs.
Defendants Alexandra Pavlenok, Ekaterina Plotnikova, and Stepan Solovyev were identified by the city’s Office of Special Enforcement as illegal hotel operators and in the suit, the city alleges that defendants misled guests about the legality of the listings by using addresses and deceptive explanations. They reportedly operated out of seven buildings in three boroughs and generated nearly $1 million from roughly 5,000 visitors. The seven buildings identified in the lawsuit are 12 John Street, 40 Water Street, 151 Stanton Street, 153 Stanton Street, 159 Bleecker Street, 238 Gates Avenue, 17-12 Menahan Street.
“Illegal hotel operators like the ones in this suit exacerbate the city’s housing affordability crisis,” said Council speaker Corey Johnson in a statement. “Shady profiteers like these that use our badly needed housing stock to turn a quick buck are shameful, and this is a perfect example of why we need to maintain enforcement efforts against this harmful behavior.”
Back in December, a Lower East Side building owner was ordered 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. The New York City Council has also recently advanced a bill that intends to restrict short-term rental services like Airbnb by requiring New York City hosts to register information with the city’s Office of Special Enforcement.