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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, August 21, 2017

In a ground breaking decision, a Manhattan judge has ruled that an independent manager take control over two properties, where the owner has allegedly continuously allowed renters to sublease apartments on Airbnb. Leasing the properties as a short-term hotel is against the city’s Department of Buildings code and the fire code. The two Midtown properties at 334 W. 46th St. and 15 W. 55th St., which are owned by Salim Assa, were called “public nuisances”. The properties have already received multiple citations and an injunction to cease the short term leasing following a lawsuit against Assa, dating back to February 2015. 

In his decision, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James E. d’Auguste wrote, “It appears that despite receiving over one hundred building and fire violations, criminal court summonses regarding the illegal use and occupancy of the properties, being sued by the City in the instant action, and being enjoined from using the properties as illegal short-term hotels pursuant to the preliminary injunction in place, the Owner Defendants have taken minimal steps to remedy the alleged illegal use and occupancy.”

As reported by the NY Post, the judge appointed Manhattan attorney Darren R. Marks as receiver for the properties, authorizing him to run the buildings, and collect rents. Proponents hailed the exemplary ruling as a strong warning for landlords who disregard city laws against Airbnb subleasing. “This decision should serve as a warning that the City does not limit its enforcement efforts to issuing violations,” said Catherine Wan, Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.

After the decision Assa’s lawyer, Anthony Genovesi won an emergency stay from the state Appellate Division Court delaying the appointment of an independent manager over the properties until the case is appealed. Genovesi told The Post that landlords are being ‘victimized’, while the renters and subleases are the offenders who are reaping the benefits. 

“There is an incongruity to prosecuting a landlord for something the landlord did not do and is not able to prevent. The tenants in this case have absolutely no downside to violating the law. The city is not issuing tenants any violations, and they have not issued any subtenants any violations,” said Genovesi. “The landlords can’t control a tenant’s bad decision. In this case, the landlord did absolutely nothing wrong and had no involvement in any temporary residences. The landlord terminated the lease of any and every tenant who permitted a temporary residence.”

By:  Ilana Siyance