Lena Yelagina, the owner of a 30th-floor apartment was issued a civil summons by New York City officials for a trifling $1,000 for advertising the apartment on Airbnb for six months before, during and after the presidential election and inauguration. The Summons charges the apartment was illegally advertised for rent. Considering that Ms. Yelagina is the owner of a condominium at Trump Tower and another apartment on the Upper West Side, it is unlikely that she will have trouble paying the fine.
The original ad was taken down in early March. The rental was available for between $300 and $450 a night for stays as short as three nights.
City law makes it illegal as of 2010 to rent out apartments if the owner is not present for less than 30 days.
Melissa Grace, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the issuance of the Summons, “We will continue to crack down on those who profit by turning permanent housing into de facto hotel rooms.”
The City attempted three times in vain to serve Ms. Yelagina with the Summons and finally had to settle with for nail in mail service, leaving it with a doorman at Trump Tower and then mailing it to Ms. Yelagina’s apartment.
A hearing regarding the listing is scheduled in civil court for May 4th.
In June of last year, there was a major dispute involving Airbnb and host cities New York and San Francisco. Airbnb sued San Francisco over a decision to fine the startup $1,000 a day for every unregistered host on its service after protesters took to the streets over evictions made by landlords that had been converting their apartments in de facto Airbnb units.
A new law had also been passed by New York lawmakers making it illegal to rent out units for less than 30 days.
According to the New York Times, the friction between the startup and local legislators is bound to continue, as Airbnb is New York City’s largest United States market. New York City hosts generated $1 billion in revenue last year alone for the company. However, this does not bode well for the housing market, as low costs rentals drive up prices for long term renter’s overtime. According to a study done by affordable housing advocates, 55% of these NYC listings are illegal under the new law, which had only really begun to be enforced this past February according to the Times. Melissa Grace claims that since then, 65 violations have been issued to nine separate hosts including Ms. Yelagina.
By: Svetlana Chernenko