An unhappy ex-tenant is looking to take a bite out of Big Apple Properties.
In a complaint filed Sunday, Miguel Pastor accused his former landlords of unlawfully evicting him and his roommate for renting one of the rooms in their Lenox Hill apartment on Airbnb. Pastor says Premier Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Big Apple, evicted him even as its parent company was operating Airbnbs out of its own properties. He also alleges that the company refuses to return his $25,500 security deposit.
Big Apple disputes the claims. “This lawsuit has, in my estimation, no basis in fact or law,” said Todd Nahins, an attorney representing the firm.
Pastor and his roommate, Oluremi Adewole, signed a lease for a two-bedroom apartment at 416 East 73rd Street in September 2017, according to the suit. Pastor gave Big Apple a $12,780 security deposit.
He and Adewole shared one of the bedrooms and occasionally rented the other out on Airbnb. When Big Apple learned of the arrangement, the building’s managing agent demanded Pastor pay an additional $12,780 security deposit or face eviction, according to the complaint. He says he was not told to stop listing the room on Airbnb, even though his lease contained a rider explicitly barring tenants from short-term rentals. After he paid the additional deposit, Big Apple extended his lease for another year.
The Department of Buildings wasn’t so accommodating to Pastor’s side hustle. In December 2018, they issued a partial Vacate Order, as the unauthorized Airbnb rentals violated the city’s Multiple Dwelling Law. As a result, Pastor says he was locked out of his apartment and forced to find other accommodations. While he promised three days later to cease rentals, Pastor still needed his landlords to schedule an inspection with the DOB to get the Vacate Order rescinded.
Instead, according to Pastor, Big Apple turned rotten.
In March 2019, the property manager moved to terminate Pastor’s lease because of the Airbnb rentals. A judge ruled that they hadn’t given him time to cure the lease breach, buying Pastor some time, but Big Apple still refused to schedule an inspection to open the apartment back up. Instead of fighting on, Pastor surrendered the lease that September, and Big Apple got the Vacate Order rescinded soon after.
Now, while Pastor is living in Mallorca, Spain, he’s suing in New York Supreme Court for triple damages — amounting to $76,680 — plus interest.
“He was the cause of the vacate order, he caused my client damages — fines — and I’m assuming that’s why [Big Apple] withheld the security deposit,” said Nahins.
This isn’t Big Apple’s first Airbnb imbroglio. In June, it settled with the city for illegal short-term rentals at other properties the firm managed. Though Big Apple didn’t admit wrongdoing, it and the building owner were ordered to make a settlement payment of $700,000. The building owner covered the fee, but Big Apple had to amend its leases to explicitly forbid illegal short-term occupancy.
Pastor’s attorney declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.