Representing a New York landlord, Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C. obtained an injunction in a Supreme Court ejectment action against a group of illegal short-term rental operators who commandeered multiple apartments in our client’s building.
Several months ago, a group of straw tenants, led by their ringleader, submitted a series of fraudulent apartment applications, and obtained leases for four apartments in the building. The plot quickly unraveled when none of the named tenants moved in. Instead, they furnished the apartments and immediately began a short-term rental operation, advertising the apartments on websites such as booking.com. We conferenced the matter with one of the tenants, the landlord, and the police, and agreed with one of the tenants for her to surrender one of the apartments. However, the group still controlled three other apartments in the building.
Since short-term renting (and advertising) in New York is illegal, we filed a Supreme Court ejectment action, arguing that the tenancies were void based on Real Property Law Section 231, which states that tenancies in apartments used for an illegal trade or business are void. RPL 231 also allows for an injunction against the illegal use.
We immediately moved, by order to show cause, for an injunction to prohibit the illegal use. In support of the motion we included affidavits from agents of the landlord demonstrating that the tenants never moved in to the apartments and that transient occupants with suitcases were observed coming and going from the apartments. We included pictures of transient occupants with luggage in the building, and copies of the defendants’ fraudulent apartment applications. We also included screenshots of the booking.com advertisement.
We argued that such use of the apartments, in addition to being illegal, is dangerous, and places the entire building and its lawful residents and staff at risk.
The Court awarded our client a temporary restraining order, then extended the injunction. The specific language of the injunction read:
Each Defendant (and all persons known and unknown acting on their behalf, or in concert with them) is enjoined and restrained in any manner or by any means from (i) advertising, offering, engaging in and/or facilitating illegal short-term rentals (less than 30 days) at the Premises; using or permitting the Premises to be used for an illegal trade or business by subletting the Premises and installing transient occupants in the Premises on an illegal short-term basis (less than 30 days); collecting any consideration, rent, or use and occupancy for the Premises from third parties in connection with any short-term rentals of the Premises; and (ii) using, occupying, or maintaining possession of the Premises.