In a landmark legal decision, Manhattan Housing Court Judge Jack Stoller just became the friend of cash strapped tenants everywhere. Justice Stoller ruled today that a financial district renter, Kimberly Freeman, could not be evicted from her apartment for subletting her two bedroom rental unit to short term renters via the San Francisco based accommodations service, AirBnB.
The tenant, Kimberly Freeman, was served an eviction notice by her landlord, Gold Street Properties, for subletting her apartment to short term tenants that she found by using AirBnB. According to The New York Post, Freeman was charging her tenants $200.00 per night for the use of her two bedroom apartment. Her monthly rent is $2,350.00, which works out to $77.00 per day. That’s a nice little profit for Freeman indeed. Unfortunately for Freeman, her landlord wasn’t amused and decided to try to use New York’s Multiple Dwelling Law as means to evict her from her apartment.
In response, and to the delight of AirBnB’ers the world over, Freeman took the case to court and won. Justice Stoller wrote that Freeman could not be evicted from her apartment because “the Multiple Dwelling Law is generally aimed at the conduct of owners of property, not tenants.”
The case is important to tenants city wide because previously, landlords assumed that tenants who profited off illegal subletting were committing a noncurable offense and were subsequently evicted. What’s even more astounding is that prior to Justice Stoller’s ruling, Freeman admitted to breaking city law and further stated that, regarding her “illegal” subletting to tenants found on AirBnB, her lease expressly forbid such practices. But first person admission aside, she’s still innocent I tell you!
For all those would-be AirBnB entrepreneurs considering renting out trendy apartments throughout New York, not so fast. The case wasn’t a complete victory for Freeman. Judge Stoller further added that even though Freeman could stay in her apartment, once a landlord asks a tenant to stop subletting their apartment (via AirBnB or anything else), the tenant must comply.
AirBnB made the news regarding a similar case earlier this month. In that case, Inquisitr informs us that an artist was rolling money in hand over fist by subletting her Tribeca loft to tenants she found on AirBnB for approximately $4,500.00 a month while paying her landlord only $1,463.79 per month. Not surprisingly, the landlord is suing the artist. He wants the artist evicted and a cut of the illegally earned dough. The curve-ball in this case is the artist, Eileen Hickey, was illegally subletting a rent-stabilized loft. Curbed speculates that the outcome of this case is unclear since rent-stabilized tenants are a special case.
Either way, services like AirBnB are so new and innovative that there is little doubt that more cases of right, wrong, and apparently, “gray area” will continue to surface in the future.