One of the city’s “worst landlords” is accused of turning rent-stabilized apartments in Hell’s Kitchen into illegal hotel rooms and listing them on websites like Airbnb.
The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (MOSE) announced a lawsuit Wednesday against Big Apple Management LLC for allegedly converting seven buildings on 47th Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, into illegal hotels despite years of complaints, violations and fines.
Based on the city’s inspections, at least seven of the unlawful hotel rooms had been rent-stabilized units before 2009.
“This is about protecting housing meant for New Yorkers, and preserving a sense of safety and community in a residential neighborhood,” Christian Klossner, executive director of MOSE, said of the lawsuit in an emailed statement. “The message of this action is clear — if landlords turn a blind eye to rampant illegal short-term rentals, then we will see them in court.”
The alleged criminal activity has been going on for years, with at least 50 illegal hotel complaints at the buildings since 2011.
The company, which is listed on Public Advocate Letitia James’ "Worst Landlords" list, has also racked up 150 building and fire violations and owes roughly $90,000 in unpaid fines for the buildings on 47th Street alone, per MOSE. In total, Big Apple Management has nearly 400 open violations issued by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
A request for comment from Big Apple Management regarding the allegations and lawsuit was not immediately returned.
Christopher A. LeBron, president of the West 47th Street Tenants’ Association, said the organization was pleased to see further actions being taken against the landlord.
“We hope that the long abuses by Big Apple Management, in [its] unlawful use of apartments as illegal hotels, will come to a quick end through these legal proceedings,” LeBron said in an emailed statement.
The owners of the seven buildings — 321-3 West 47th Street Associates L.P.; 328-30 West 47th Street Associates L.P.; 332-34 West 47th Street Associates L.P.; and 348-58 West 47th Street Associates L.P. — are also named in the lawsuit as well as Flavio Rausei, who is accused of using Airbnb to list illegal rentals in two of the buildings.