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Ridgewood apartment units used as illegal hotel rooms: Mayor’s office

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An apartment building in Ridgewood was among seven buildings last week to be named in the city’s first multi-borough lawsuit against several individuals acting in concert with each other for using housing units as illegal hotels in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, according to the mayor’s office.

The sole apartment is located in Ridgewood at 17-12 Menahan St. and had two units — 1R and 2F — that were operated like an illegal hotel by one of the defendants, Ekaterina Plotnikova, according to the mayor’s spokeswoman, Alacia Lauer, of the Office of Criminal Justice.

The Ridgewood property had 60 reservations between June 2017 and July 2018 for the units, during which there were five violations issued for inadequate fire alarm systems, inadequate means of egress or unobstructed exit and a conversion for use other than permanent residential purposes, according to Lauer.

The last two violations included an occupancy contrary to the certificate of occupancy and a peremptory vacate order, which was issued April 27 for converting the lower part of duplex apartment 1R into sleeping quarters without providing a means of egress, according to Lauer.

Between all seven buildings, the operators, which also included Alexandra Pavlenok, Stepan Solovyev, and John and Jane Doe numbers one through 10, generated approximately $1 million from 5,000 visitors, according to the mayor’s office.

The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement, which subpoenaed Airbnb requesting payout information for the Menahan property and other associated listings, was not able to provide a breakdown of how much was generated at the apartment buildings separately because the online marketplace for lodgings failed to fully comply with them, according to Lauer.

“This is highly commercialized activity where operators are misleading visitors and taking housing units away from New Yorkers — and they’re making a fortune in the process. We’re taking action to preserve the city’s housing stock and to defend visitors’ rights to safe and legal accommodat­ions,” said Christian Klossner, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.

While Airbnb was only mentioned in the lawsuit, along with TripAdvisor and it’s subsidiary FlipKey, as sites that the illegal hotel operators used to create accounts to post for short-term rentals for rooms in the apartment buildings, its main concern is protecting New Yorkers who use the site to rent rooms legally.

“While Airbnb actively pushes for statewide legislation in Albany that would provide for strict enforcement, the Office of Special Enforcement should limit its focus to truly bad actors and not expend its vast resources to target regular New Yorkers who are responsibly sharing their home,” said Josh Meltzer, the head of northeast policy at Airbnb.

Airbnb’s refusal to comply with the OSE may not matter, because two months ago the City Council voted in favor of a new law that will require home-share companies to share data on its users and is expected to go into effect February 2019, according to the mayor’s office.

This comes at a time when affordable housing across the city is increasingly hard to find, because of a significant growth in short-term rental listings, according to the mayor’s office and Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan).

“Illegal hotel operators like the ones in this suit exacerbate the city’s housing affordability crisis. Shady profiteers like these that use our badly needed housing stock to turn a quick buck are shameful, and this is a perfect example of why we need to maintain enforcement efforts against this harmful behavior,” said Johnson.

In August, Airbnb removed listings from users of its site who were abusing the company’s one host–one home policy in prime residential areas, and in Queens, 285 listings were removed.

“Illegal hotel operators pose a threat to our housing stock and our neighborhoods. We will use any tools necessary to shut them down and keep New Yorkers safe,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

Posted 12:00 am, September 24, 2018
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Reader feedback

Dwayne from Queens says:
These kinds of things wouldn't occur if not for the plotting and scheming NY politicians who are responsible for the widespread(ing) homelessness and despair in land-grab and re-development scams: Kirsten Gillibrand, Charles Schumer, Andrew Cuomo, Al Sharpton, Bill de Blasio, NY City Council, Gregory Meeks and many more on that vile list. #walkaway
Sept. 24, 6:07 am
Not new from Queens says:
This is not new. This is happening in alot of places and the government knows about it. They just cover everything up. I remember back in the 80s when my grandmothers Brooklyn home caught on fire, my aunt went to the apartment building across the street where they knew the landlord and asked him if they can stay there for a few months while the insurance kicked in to pay for their house to be fixed and for the construction to be done. He said "why would I rent to you when the government gives me 200 dollars a week per Russian that I house here?". He frontly ADMITTED that the government was paying for him to house Russians instead. So no, stuff like this is nothing new to the government. They don't care when long time residents cant even afford to live in their own neighborhoods anymore. They dont care about anyone who is a native born new Yorker. Just as long as the landlords pay their property taxes, they can CARE LESS about what the landlords do. Hence also the reason why you have so many slumlords. NYC government has always been VERY CORRUPT about housing. It's only getting worst now that we have the dumbest person on the planet in charge of us.
Sept. 24, 9:49 am
mainly greed from queens says:
A few do this to make ends meet but most are just greedy. They could care less how the transiency impacts their neighbors and just want a quick buck. They should lose their apartments as punishment.
Sept. 25, 3:31 pm
Shags from Fulham says:
this is just so sad that the government can not be able to bar such acts of atrocities to the residents. Though this is an eliminated case. http://www.epoxyflooringriverside.com/contact/
Sept. 27, 1:44 am

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