Brokerage hit with $21M lawsuit alleging involvement in illegal Airbnb network

130 Manhattan apartments hosted more than 75,000 guests

Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images and iStock)

New York City is suing Metropolitan Property Group, a real estate brokerage firm, for running an illegal network of Airbnb rentals across 130 apartments in 35 buildings in Manhattan.

The brokerage facilitated 13,691 rentals through Airbnb, housing more than 75,000 guests and taking in nearly $21 million from 2015 to 2018, the New York Times reported citing the suit, which was filed on Monday. The lawsuit is the largest of its kind to be brought by the city, according to the publication.

Metropolitan is accused of using a web of 18 corporate entities and fake identities to set up multiple Airbnb host accounts, often with identical contact information or inaccurate addresses. One agent reportedly used the names of his spouse and her family to create 19 such accounts.

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Metropolitan CEO Sami Katri and four other current and former employees were named in the suit, along with the owners of five buildings who knowingly allowed the rentals to take place.

The lawsuit comes two weeks after a federal judge blocked a New York City law designed to crack down on Airbnb, which would have required the company to share host information with the city. That move was widely seen as a win for the short-term rental platform.

In November, city officials raided the Atelier, a luxury condo on the Far West Side, and handed out nearly two dozen violations to owners who allegedly rented out apartments on Airbnb. It was said to be one of the largest Airbnb raids. [NYT] — Kevin Sun