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City files $21M suit against brokerage firm for illegal Airbnb listings

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The lawsuit accuses the firm of using fake identities and multiple corporate accounts to run an illegal hotel operation

Richard Cavalleri /

On Monday, the city filed a lawsuit against a group of real estate brokers, accusing them of using Airbnb to illegally rent out apartments in 35 Manhattan buildings.

According to the New York Times, the Metropolitan Property Group is at the center of a $21 million lawsuit filed by the city, making it the largest suit ever brought about by the city against an alleged illegal hotel operator. The suit claims that the firm used fake identities and 18 corporate entities on Airbnb to convert 130 apartments into illegal hotel rooms. It also alleges that the company housed more than 75,000 guests between 2015 and 2018 and made roughly $21 million in profits.

When contacted by the Times, Sami Katri, the CEO of Metropolitan Property Group said the allegations were not true and refused to comment any further.

The lawsuit comes just a week after a Manhattan judge issued an injunction against new legislation aimed at requiring Airbnb and other short-term listing sites to disclose information about hosts and listings on a monthly basis. The law was set to go into effect next month, however, the injunction will remain in place until the litigation is resolved.