ELMHURST, Queens — It took five months and 10 appearances in Housing Court, but landlord Eddie Shiew finally evicted Burack Firick and Dogan Kimilli, two tenants who rented a three-bedroom apartment in Elmhurst, Queens, from Shiew and then illegally renovated it.
They converted it into a 10-bedroom apartment without the landlord’s permission then listed the small living spaces created by the renovation for rent on Airbnb, a website for people looking for a cheap place to stay for a short time.
When PIX11 News first reported this story four months ago, the small bedrooms were being rented for $35 a night and up by Firick and Kimilli, who were not living in the apartment themselves.
When the landlord found out what was going on, he came in and tore down the renovations, changed the locks on the doors, and ordered the tenants to vacate the premises. But even though the lease prohibits tenants from making any alterations or renovations without the landlord’s permission, the housing court judge ruled against Shiew.
“They say I illegally locked them out,” he said.
What a shame!
The judge ordered Shiew to let Firick and Kimilli back into the apartment until the landlord could obtain an order of eviction. As PIX11 News reported, Firick has pulled the same renovation scam with other landlords. He texted Shiew saying, “We know the laws very well. You’ll not be able to evict us ever.”
PIX11 News followed the case in civil court for months, as Firick and Kimilli convinced the judge to postpone the case time after time, as they continued making money renting out the rooms on Airbnb.
As the court case dragged on, Firick and Kimilli failed to pay Shiew the $2,500-a-month rent they agreed to in the lease. The judge ordered the back-rent be paid, but when Firick and Kimilli ignored that order, the eviction was granted.
PIX11 News was there when the New York City Marshals showed up to serve the order. No one was in the apartment, but after forcing open the front door, it was clear people were still living in some of the rooms.
Landlord Eddie Shiew was allowed to change the locks. Firick and Kimilli are no longer permitted to enter the apartment.
So Eddie Shiew finally won the battle, but what a shame it was such a long and expensive ordeal. He is still owed $10,000 in back rent by Firick and Kimilli and plans to sue them to recover that money.