A wealthy citizen of Cyprus and Russia who sought to ride out part of the pandemic in South Florida is seeking a refund of the full $65,000 monthly rental fee he paid in advance, after arriving at what he alleged was a “filthy party house” in Miami Beach.
Alexander Frayman filed a lawsuit recently in federal court in the Southern District of Florida against Douglas Elliman Realty, Douglas Elliman Florida, agents Darin Tansey and Raphael Avigdor, property owner Greg Mirmelli and Miami Luxury Concierge, alleging the agents violated their duties. He also alleged that the defendants violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. He is suing alleging fraud, malpractice, negligent misrepresentation, unjust agreement, breach of contract and other counts.
Brokers have reported a strong uptick in luxury rentals in coastal cities such as Miami Beach in recent months, as many wealthy residents of the Northeast and other dense markets sought to escape their homes. The majority of rentals have been for single-family homes with large outdoor spaces and pools.
Among Frayman’s allegations is that Elliman and its agents who were involved in the rental breached their duties by illegally advertising an illegal rental for the waterfront house at 2120 Bay Avenue. Short-term rentals of single-family homes for periods of less than six months are prohibited in the city of Miami Beach. (The Miami Beach City Commission is set to vote Wednesday on an ordinance that would reduce the pricey fines the city has imposed on property owners who violate the ban.)
Mirmelli called the lawsuit “completely untrue,” and said that he kept up his end of the arrangement with Frayman. “All I did was keep an agreement, and I didn’t allow someone to extort me,” he said. Mirmelli called the city’s ban on short-term rentals illegal.
Elliman declined to comment. Frayman’s attorney also declined to comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Tansey and Mirmelli’s sister, Sara, promised Frayman a refund of his $65,000 rental payment after he arrived at the property, which allegedly “had yet to be cleaned from the night before.”
“Relying on this statement and Tansey’s assurances that he would get a full refund, Frayman left the property and found other accommodations,” the lawsuit alleges. “Months later, Frayman has yet to see a return of any portion of the $65,000 he wired to Miami Luxury Concierge LLC, and the brokers have now taken the position that they are ‘not responsible’ for the return of Frayman’s money.”
“Sometimes people change their minds,” Mirmelli said. “And when they do, they’ll make up anything they can.” Mirmelli said the house was “impeccable” and that a housekeeper is on site seven days a week. He disputed that the renter was promised a refund.
In an email attached to the lawsuit, Avigdor said he was sent photos of a dirty pool and furniture, party cups at the bottom of the pool and a “house in disrepair” from Frayman, his client.
“The worst of it is this was delivered to a customer who could have been parlayed into a multimillion-dollar buyer. So, needless to say I am more than disappointed. My reputation was hurt,” Avigdor wrote to Tansey, encouraging the agent to “avoid an embarrassing lawsuit.”
Last year, Mirmelli was sued by another renter seeking a $57,000 refund for the same property. A Miami-Dade judge dismissed the case with prejudice in April. The renter, a Wellington resident, sought the refund after discovering that the house is in a neighborhood where short-term rentals are prohibited.