City sues operator of 'illegal hotels': Officials
The city has sued a "major operator" of illegal hotels allegedly running short-term room rentals out of 50 Manhattan and Brooklyn residential buildings, officials said Tuesday.
The suit, filed in State Supreme Court, claims that Smart Apartments converted residential rooms into short-term hotels for tourists, violating fire safety laws and consumer protection guidelines. The city is seeking penalties for the company's ads, $1 million in punitive damages and restitution for tourists who stayed in the rooms.
"Illegal hotel operators create hazardous conditions and place the lives of guests in danger," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, adding that his administration would "remain vigilant . . . combating this public safety problem."
The suit names Robert "Toshi" K.Y. Chan, a principal executive at Smart Apartments. Smart Apartments and Chan couldn't be reached for comment.
The buildings include 203 East 14th St. and 44 West 37th St. in Manhattan, and 808 Driggs Ave. in Brooklyn. Officials said they found poor sprinkler systems and no fire alarms and subpar emergency lighting in the buildings, among other violations.