Midtown landlord Salim “Solly” Assa could lose control of two properties after a Manhattan court ruled he did not stop his tenants from running illegal hotel operations through Airbnb.
Assa allegedly ignored around 100 notices of violations from the Department of Buildings for 334 West 46th Street and 15 West 55th Street, most of which stemmed from accusations that apartments were being booked on Airbnb. Assa leased apartments to LLCs controlled by brothers Eran Suki and Ben Zion Suky, who are accused of operating short-term hotel rooms. Lawyers for the City claim Assa kept subleasing the properties, even though he’d agreed to an injunction in March 2016.
The brothers have been accused by city officials of running illegal hotels across the city for years.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James d’Auguste found that the conditions at Assa’s properties constituted “public nuisances,” the New York Post reported. Assa immediately appealed the decision, and has been granted a stay, which means he will maintain control while an appeal is heard.
If the decision is upheld at appeal, an attorney will act as a receiver of the two properties, running them and collecting rent. Receivership would trigger an automatic default on the mortgages for those buildings, and represent at least a $130 million loss.
The city first filed suit against Assa in 2015.
In February, the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement started handing out fines for illegal Airbnb listings, though only 139 listings were fined out of about 2,400. The state passed a law last year setting fines at $1,000 for advertising illegal short-term listings on sites like Airbnb.
Last year, Assa was sued by a former business partner for improperly “seizing” the Midtown properties. [NYP] — Miriam Hall
This post has been updated to clarify that Assa did not personally illegally rent apartments on Airbnb, but rather allegedly did not stop his tenants from doing so, despite court orders.