City wins $1M judgment against couple who illegally Airbnb’d

Mina Guirguis and Szilvia Patkos used platforms like Airbnb to market their units

5 West 31st Street and 59 Fifth Avenue
5 West 31st Street and 59 Fifth Avenue

A pair of illegal hotel operators need to pay the city $1 million as part of its crackdown on converting housing units into hotels.

The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement received the $1 million judgment against Mina Guirguis and Szilvia Patkos, who used services like Airbnb to market at least seven units in 5 West 31st Street and 59 Fifth Avenue, according to Politico. They operated as City Oases LLC and marketed the units as “Urban Oasis” and “the Contempo Design Suites.”

The city sued them in 2014 and previously received a $1 million settlement in November with property owners Majid and Hamid Kermanshah. However, the Kermanshah’s ultimately will only need to pay the city $201,500.

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It is illegal in New York to rent empty apartments in buildings with more than three units for fewer than 30 days, a law that has proven challenging for Airbnb. The company supports a bill from Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and state Sen. John Bonacic that would let apartment residents rent their units out for fewer than 30 days, while the hotel industry is backing an opposing bill that would require people advertising apartments on home-rental platforms to include location details.

The city has been cracking down on Airbnb listing in the meantime and recently fined landlords who used the service in Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Guirguis and Patkos claim their business was legal and say they were unfairly targeted. “Ours was a small operation with us living on the premises together with long-term residents and short-term guests (this arrangement was clearly described on our website),” Patkos told Politico. “We have joined a large (and still counting) group of other people who are working on bringing a class action against the City for unlawful vacate orders, evictions and unfair prosecutions. … [T]his is why we were not willing to settle.” [Politico]Eddie Small