NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced on Tuesday a new lawsuit to shut down an alleged illegal short-term rental operation at a building located in Turtle Bay, Manhattan.
Licensed real estate broker Arron Latimer and Apex Management building owner Esther Yip, used a number of LLCs they control to run a complex and illegal short-term rental operation in Manhattan through popular online lodging websites like Airbnb, according to the lawsuit.
“For years, Arron Latimer and the other defendants used fake host profiles on popular sites like Airbnb to deceive and lure unsuspecting guests into paying for substandard lodging at illegal rental listings,” Adams said in a statement. “Not only did they unlawfully pocket millions, but they endangered guests and deprived New Yorkers of an entire building’s worth of long-term housing.
According to city officials, Latimer used more than 26 distinct host accounts, operated more than 78 listings, handled more than 2,200 transactions and swindled more than 6,500 guests within a four-year period.
“This lawsuit underscores the necessity of robust reporting requirements for booking platforms, and why the city needs the short-term rental registration program that will take effect in 2023,” said Christian Klossner, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement.
The aforementioned program comes with the short-term registration law, which will require hosts in New York City to register with the city starting in 2023, according to Adams’ office.
Airbnb Public Policy Regional Lead Nathan Rotman said the company banned Latimer from its platform several months ago. He commended Adams for taking “swift action” against hosts who break the rules.
“Airbnb currently shares information with the City, and looks forward to working with the City and State to build an effective and transparent regulatory framework to differentiate between the responsible Hosts who should be protected under the law and operators of properties like this who have no place on our platform,” Rotman added.