Judge evicts rent-stabilized Airbnb host in landmark decision

Hell’s Kitchen resident was renting out his luxury unit in a Related Companies building

450 West 42nd Street in Hell's Kitchen
450 West 42nd Street in Hell's Kitchen

In a decision that could make it easier for landlords to crack down on rent-stabilized tenants who are renting out their discounted apartments on Airbnb, a Manhattan Housing Court judge evicted a man who was renting out his luxury apartment in a Related Companies building.

The ruling is the first to outright evict a tenant benefiting from rent controls for using Airbnb without giving them a second chance, according to Frank Ricci of the Rent Stabilization Association. While the decision does not count as precedential case law, it can be cited in future rulings to help take down Airbnb hosts, the New York Post reported.

The apartment in question, at Related’s 450 West 42nd Street, was advertised on Airbnb by tenant Henry Ikezi for $649 per night, about triple what he was paying. The apartment’s market value is approximately $9,000, but Ikezi only paid $6,670 per month because it was rent-stabilized. The building also received a 421-a tax exemption.

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While Ikezi claimed that he lives in the Hell’s Kitchen unit, Related held that he actually lives in a million-dollar-plus home in Queens neighborhood Jamaica with his family and uses the apartment for extra income.

Related is ramping up its opposition to tenants renting apartments on Airbnb. “They will go after anyone who is not using their apartment properly,” said Todd Nahins, the firm’s lawyer. “They will not tolerate the apartment being used as a hotel.”

A report released earlier this month found that more than half of the city’s Airbnb listings may be illegal. In January, the City Council held a marathon hearing on the contentious issue. [NYP] — Tess Hofmann