“Wolf of Airbnb” terrorizing landlords
Apartment building owners say Konrad Bicher has sophisticated operation
He calls himself the Wolf of Airbnb.
Konrad Bicher, 30, is making a fortune allegedly running an illegal Airbnb operation in Manhattan while skipping out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in rent, according to several landlords who say they’ve been menaced by the self-styled hustler.
The short-term stay tycoon has in several instances claimed Covid rent hardships and tried to strongarm buyouts from landlords, knowing the eviction bans and court backlogs gave him the upper hand, property owners claim.
“He’s using the eviction moratorium against landlords knowing it’ll take months or even years to evict him … basically just making even more profit,” said one landlord who requested anonymity because he fears reprisal.
In court records Bicher has denied running illegal short-term rentals, even though his Instagram page indicates he considers himself the Jordan Belfort of Airbnb rentals. When contacted by The Real Deal, he did not respond to questions about the specific allegations against him.
The one question he did answer directly was about his lupine label.
“The Wolf of Airbnb: It means someone who is hungry and ruthless enough to get on top of the financial ladder,” he wrote in a text. “They compare the ferocity to that of a wolf, because wolves are territorial, vicious and show no mercy when provoked.”
On Bicher’s social media accounts, influencer-style photos depict him enjoying private jets and exotic vacation spots. But court records paint a picture of a deadbeat who won’t pay his rent and refuses to leave when his lease expires.
In legal filings, owners claim he owes roughly $450,000 in rent dating to at least February 2020. In at least five different instances, Bicher made hardship declarations saying he couldn’t pay his rent because of the pandemic, court records show.
Landlord Michael Aryeh filed lawsuits claiming Bicher owes more than $223,000 for four apartments in West Harlem.
Bicher rented the apartments in early 2020 but didn’t pay and refused to leave the units a year after his leases expired, according to the filings.
“Based on what my property manager has told me, he is using the pandemic as well as the eviction moratorium with not paying rent while he successfully Airbnb’s the apartments and profits from every single room in addition to adding illegal bedrooms to maximize his profit,” Aryeh told TRD by email.
Most of the apartments Bicher rents are in Upper Manhattan. A few are in Hell’s Kitchen and on the West Side.
But exactly where Bicher rests his head is something of a mystery. In fact, he and his attorney have gotten two lawsuits thrown out because landlords’ process servers couldn’t track him down to properly serve him. One landlord claimed in court records that Bicher is believed to stay at the luxury MiMa rental tower on West 42nd Street.
Landlords claim that in addition to unpaid rent, Bicher’s Airbnb operations have led to city violations on their properties.
Short-term rentals without the owner or regular tenant present have been banned in New York since 2011, when state lawmakers made it illegal to rent out a full apartment for fewer than 30 days. That hardly curtailed the use of sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, however, so in 2016 the state made it illegal to advertise illegal short-term rentals.
Enforcement has continued to be difficult, though, and has mostly focused on landlords, although illegal short-term rentals are commonly orchestrated by tenants as well.
The mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement has gone after property managers and owners suspected of running illegal hotels. The Department of Buildings can issue fines up to $7,500 per infraction.
In 2020, Airbnb reached a settlement with the city in which the company agreed to share listing information with hosts’ names, phone numbers, addresses and other details on the places they rent.
Airbnb debuted as a public company later that year. Its latest earnings report showed net income was $834 million in the third quarter, up 280 percent year-over-year.