Brodsky brings challenge to NYC Airbnb law

Landlord doesn’t want to be held responsible for tenant actions

A photo illustration of Daniel Brodsky and 75 West End Avenue (Getty Images, Google Maps)
A photo illustration of Daniel Brodsky and 75 West End Avenue (Getty Images, Google Maps)

The Brodsky Organization appears to be tired of being held accountable for the sins of its tenants.

The landlord filed an Article 78 case against the city and its enforcement of the short-term rental law, Crain’s reported. The suit classification calls on a state court to review a city law.

Brodsky’s lawsuit stems from the actions of a tenant who was illegally using his Lincoln Square apartment as an Airbnb. The tenant at 75 West End Avenue violated the law that prevents apartments from being rented for fewer than 30 days at a time.

In the lawsuit, Brodsky claimed it did all it could to stop the tenant’s actions, but is still bearing the brunt of the damage.

“It would be illegal as a matter of law for the landlord to simply throw the tenant out extra-judicially upon learning of the illegal conduct,” the lawsuit stated. “Yet, that appears to be the only course open to the landlord.”

Officials disagreed, saying Brodsky should’ve easily uncovered the illegal scheme. Investigators used online ads in their case and said the apartment had been rented out on about 90 different occasions; Brodsky claimed the ads were very vague.

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Last April, Brodsky started an eviction proceeding against the tenant, Alvaro Reinoso, who was out by the summer. A court blamed Brodsky for the sublet in January, though, and an appeal upheld that decision in May, sparking the latest action.

Brodsky was fined $53,000, a small penance for most major landlords. But the firm seems to be taking up a fight that could impact landlords across the city and do particularly big damage against smaller landlords with smaller coffers.

“We will review the papers, but we are confident that the courts will continue to uphold the laws that protect our housing and our visitors,” a spokesperson for the mayor said.

The fine may be the straw that broke Brodsky’s back. The landlord has gone after tenants in the past for renting out apartments illegally, suing a tenant last year at One Columbus Place.

The city’s enforcement of the short-term rental law has left much to be desired. Profiteers run rampant and some visitors don’t even know their stays are illegal, as the city has struggled to police all of the illegal rentals.

The city has enacted measures to stave off short-term rentals, but enforcement is challenging and the incentives for those to break the law are high. Mayor Eric Adams’ latest statute aims to stop people from using platforms like Airbnb without first registering with the city.

— Holden Walter-Warner