Nolita landlords’ private eye nabs tenant in short-term rental biz

July 22, 2013 02:00PM

UPDATED, 11:15 a.m., July 24: Two Nolita landlords hired a private eye posing as a tourist to catch a tenant they suspected of illegally renting out her apartment to strangers, the New York Post reported.

Tenant Amy Parness allegedly pulled in $4,500 a month for renting her one-bedroom pad, building owners Ken and Susan Podziba found. The action flouted a recent legal ruling dubbing short-term online sublets illegal, according to Manhattan Housing Court papers cited by the Post. Parness, the 38-year-old niece of a retired Manhattan Supreme Court judge, allegedly rents out the walk-up for $220 a night through travel websites such as Airbnb and Roomorama.com.

Parness is the leaseholder of apartment No. 3 at 250 Elizabeth Street, but according to the Podzibas allegedly uses her middle name, Magdalena, to list the unit as a “Nolita Nest” at 250 Mott Street on the web sites. The apartment is booked through the end of summer, according to online records cited by the Post.

Parness’ lawyer told the Housing Court that Parness’ stepbrother was staying in the unit through August, but when confronted, the tenant told the Podzibas that he is an unrelated Stanford University student interning in New York for the summer.

“I’m not a friend or relative of Magdalena,” the tenant said in the statement, adding that he also rented the unit via Airbnb.

In the past four years, the Podzibas said, Parness pulled in an estimated total of $500,000 from such rentals. Podziba, meanwhile, has since shelled out around $20,000 on a combination of legal fees and the hiring of a private investigator.

Parness replied to email messages from the Post but declined to answer questions about the apartment.

A judge ruled in May that such online hoteling violates city codes and state law, but industry leaders estimate that 3,000 New Yorkers rent out their apartments even so. Such illicit rentals are expected to nab $1 billion in profits this year. [NYP]Julie Strickland