The Brodsky Organization is suing a tenant in its Columbus Circle luxury apartment building, claiming months of missed rent payments — despite illegally renting the unit on Airbnb.
In a lawsuit filed last week, Brodsky alleges that tenant Aleksandra Melnik has been renting out a One Columbus Place apartment to strangers for more than six months, violating both the lease and a multiple dwelling law that bans short-term rentals in units designated for permanent residence.
To make matters worse, Melnik owes the Brodsky Organization, which owns more than sixty residential buildings across New York City, nearly $52,000 in back rent, the suit claims.
Although the one-year, $3,375-per-month lease at the 51-story building expired on November 30th of last year, Melnik is still living there and marketing the unit on Airbnb, through which as many as 45 groups of guests have booked visits, Brodsky alleges.
What’s more, Brodsky says Melnik hasn’t paid any rent since March 2020, according to court documents.
The Brodsky Organization has filed two lawsuits against Melnik and seeks to recover rent owed with interest and attorney fees, as well as no less than $500,000 in damages for the Airbnb charge.
On Tuesday, a judge granted Brodsky a temporary restraining order prohibiting Melnik from using the apartment as a transient hotel.
The Airbnb listing in question — which has since disappeared from the platform — advertised the apartment for $163 per night, and had 26 reviews from guests who purportedly stayed there as recently as last month.
The suit claims that it included photographs of the premises and that the front desk staff observed an “endless parade of unknown individuals arriving with luggage” to check-in to an Airbnb at the building.
An Airbnb representative said the One Columbus Circle address was not the address they had on file for the listing, which The Real Deal reviewed before it was taken down. However, the temporary visitor log that was submitted as evidence has many of the same names as the Airbnb users who left reviews. One review said that the address on the listing was not accurate.
The alleged listing is named “Near Central Park #A1.” The host’s account also had three other apartments, listed as “Near Empire State Building,” “Near Madison Square Garden” and “Near Time Square,” with some of the same photos as the “Near Central Park #A1” listing. The host has another apartment listed in Tampa, Florida, with no reviews.
The Brodsky Organization is not the only landlord suing Melnik. Luxury apartment building Herald Towers has also filed an eviction non-payment lawsuit.
Melnik, who declined to comment, rented an apartment at Herald Towers, at 50 West 34th Street, from November 26th, 2019 to December 14th, 2020, more or less concurrent with the lease at Brodsky’s Columbus Circle building. But Melnik also allegedly continues to occupy the Herald Towers apartment, and hasn’t paid rent since February 2020.
The suit claims that Melnik owes Herald Towers $62,116.13 in back rent.
On January 31st 2021 Herald Towers terminated Melnik’s tenancy but, but Melnik remained in the building without permission.
In March of this year, Melnik filed a declaration of hardship to both the One Columbus Circle and Herald Towers building, blaming the missed rent payments on financial struggles triggered by the pandemic.
Barring further action by state lawmakers, New York’s eviction moratorium will end on August 31st.