Tenant Faces Eviction for Short-Term Renting Terrace

A limited-equity housing cooperative's board in Chelsea is evicting a retired resident after the board used a sting operation to catch the resident renting out his private terrace on short-term rental sites AirBnB and Roomorama. The resident's apartment building was given 25 years of tax abatements to keep it affordable to those with limited incomes. Currently, the city allows the building's taxes to be calculated based on the cooperative's income, as is done with Mitchell-Lama housing. In return, the development must remain a limited-equity cooperative until 2022.

The board hired private investigators to infiltrate illegal rentals and is using their reports to evict people. This tenant is the sixth tenant to get caught in the past year and, out of the previous five, three went without a fight while two fought the evictions and lost.

The case has similarities to recent ones in the news in which renting rent-restricted apartments for profit has been seen as a big problem in the eyes of the city. This case is a bit more complicated because the tenant broke both his co-op’s rules and city regulations governing the terms of his subsidized apartment. The agreement between the city and the building explicitly bans co-op owners from accepting anything of value from a guest, invitee, or occupant, in exchange for occupancy, whether temporary or permanent.

Here, an HPD administrative hearing officer ruled that she did not find credible the tenant's claim that he was unaware that subletting for profit was prohibited, given how he had smuggled in the short-term tenant's luggage and instructed the undercover investigator to say he was a friend from Moscow if anyone asked. Her ruling allows the board to now evict the resident through the courts.