DOB Fine Treats Rental Building as Hotel Due to Airbnb Sublets

According to a recently filed lawsuit, owners are seeking damages against one of their tenants who had an illegal Airbnb sublet. In May, a Department of Buildings inspector found that tenants at the owner's five-story, 21-unit building, were illegally renting their apartments through Airbnb and similar services.

A court issued a series of fines to the landlords, totaling $45,000, according to the complaint. But the inspector also concluded that the units were being occupied on a “transient” basis, thus exposing the Class A, permanent residential property to rules that apply to Class B properties, hotels.

That decision meant additional requirements for the landlords, such as maintaining a more comprehensive fire alarm system and providing a second means of egress. Finding these requirements unmet, the court imposed an additional $16,250 in fines, according to the suit.

The lawsuit seeks damages of $250,000, plus another $50,000 to cover court costs. Several other tenants were renting their units as well, according to the suit. The landlords filed suit against another tenant seeking the same amount of money.