Airbnb accused in lawsuit of running illegal brokerage

Midtown-based Parker Madison Partners is seeking class-action status

TRD New York /
November 17, 2016 06:04 PM
Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia, Nathan Blecharczyk and Brian Chesky

A Midtown-based commercial brokerage filed a lawsuit against Airbnb on Thursday, alleging that the short-term rental listing site is running an illegal brokerage business.

Parker Madison Partners argues that because Airbnb helps people find apartments in return for a fee through its website, it should be registered as a brokerage firm.

“Although Airbnb blatantly acts as a real estate broker, it is neither registered nor licensed with New York State,” the complaint reads, adding that Airbnb “had no right to receive any commissions for its real estate broker services within the State of New York.”

The firm is seeking class-action status, as well a court order barring Airbnb from real estate transactions in New York “until its conduct is modified within the legitimate boundaries of law and ethics.”

In February, two former Airbnb hosts filed a similar class-action suit against Airbnb.  Both lawsuits were filed by attorney Lucas Ferrara and Jeffrey Norton of Newman Ferrara LLP.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said the firm does not comment on litigation.

Last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that raised the fine for illegal Airbnb listings to $7,500. That same day, Airbnb filed a lawsuit against Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor Bill de Blasio alleging “an unjustifiable content-based restriction on speech in violation of the First Amendment.”

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