From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part III: What To Do About Illegal Hotels?

airbnb239banker1350amonthMore specifically: What do I do when I learn that a fellow tenant is renting out his/her apartment via Airbnb? E.g.; What recourse do I have when some drunken asshat breaks my front door lock at 2:00 a.m. in the morning or simply walks in and hands my husband his luggage?

A tipster writes:

Heather!

Illegal Hotels, formally known as transient occupancy units (TOU’s) are Class “A” residential units that have been converted for short-term stays of 30 days or less without adhering to the fire codes, tax laws, Certificates of Occupancy and zoning restrictions of hotel use. The illegal conversion of residential buildings into hotels presents serious problems for permanent residents, limits the supply of available housing – in particular, rent-regulated and low-income housing. By lacking the necessary fire-safety measures that legal hotels are required to have by law, which are more stringent than multiple dwelling buildings, TOU’s also present substantial safety hazards to permanent, legal residents as well as short-term guests; many are dangerous firetraps.

The Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (“OSE”), headed by Kathleen McGee, pulls together the various enforcement agencies to go after TOUs when they are reported. I know people don’t believe it, but for this people need to file 311 Complaints, being sure to tell the operator that they want it to go to OSE. Kathleen has worked to get complaints that are incorrectly taken for HPD or DOB re-routed to her shop (and has been largely successful).

The District Manager or local elected officials can also forward complaints directly to Kathleen, and can even do so anonymously. It can be hard to get OSE out immediately, unless there is a present and imminent fire hazard, but they are very good at going out to problem locations (ie: repeated complaints or severe activity). They have been stepping up their enforcement recently.*

So far, there isn’t much proactive enforcement based off of sites like AirBnB, although with recent changes in the law, which raised the fines for landlords and allows tenants to be fined as well, some landlords have started to patrol the websites to catch tenants and proactively inform OSE.

*No shit.

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Today In Real Estate Insanity: How To Live In Greenpoint For Under $1,000/Month

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umnothanksYours truly has developed quite a fixation on AirBnb lately. This is not simply due to the lawsuit unfolding either. Rather, the Mister and I had the pleasure of having a trio of miscreants walk into our apartment at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The leader of this group announced that they were here from AirBnb and tried to hand his luggage to the Mister (who was still in his pajamas). The landlord (who had no knowledge this was going on) was called. I searched AirBnb for the listing, found it, took screengrabs and sent them to landlord. Let’s just say this did not go over well.

In any case, parsing through ~450 listings for Greenpoint (and being awakened by one’s husband rolling out more f-bombs in 2 minutes than I have ever heard him utter— much less yell— in 10+ years will motivate one to do this kind of thing) made me aware that this is a pervasive practice. I am surprised? No, not really. Still, it is wretchedly comical on occasion— especially when compared to the solicitation which graces the beginning of this post. CASE IN POINT:

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But wait folks— there’s more…

COZY!

Much more— like what the fuck is up with the slide?

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No worries, the “host” of these digs gives full disclosure:

Hello Traveler,

I’m an Artist living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I share my 3 bedroom Classic Artist’s Loft with travelers from Airbnb. I am respectful, kind and accommodating. I am seeking the same out of you! This is a fairly large apartment, it’s spacious feeling even when everyone is home. I have been very lucky and met amazing people through this service. Much of my furniture was custom made by the artist Jean-Marie Mauclet of JEMA Design and all my lighting is eco-friendly LED’s.

You are welcome to stay in my guest loft. This is a great short-term space for the budget traveler that does not require much privacy. If this space is booked, you are looking for a longer stay or need more privacy check out my “Private Room in Classic Loft” or “Brite Room in Classic Artist’s Loft.” Both are just as cool, better for long stays and have more privacy! The “Cozy Loft” is built above the door in the main living area. When at home, I tend to hang out in my bedroom on my computer or on the roof when the weather is nice. The weekends can be a bit livelier, but not by much! I will provide clean sheets for your double-bed and warm blankets if needed. I also have plenty of storage space if you should need it. Under the loft I have a wardrobe just for your use with plenty of drawers and a place to lock up your computer or other small valuables if you are concerned. The loft is relatively private, comfortable and clean. However, it is not great for couples seeking a romantic vacation or anyone who needs absolute silence to sleep. It has the unusual entrance and exit of an industrial slide. It is not particularly challenging to use, but can be a problem If you are a bit tipsy from going on a pub crawl in the neighborhood, uncoordinated or tired.

My Artist’s Loft is located on the top floor on a quiet street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. This is a very safe and friendly part of Brooklyn to visit. I have a manually operated freight elevator that is off limits (* Ed. note) but can be used to transport heavy items if you require. I have fantastic roof access with beautiful views of the New York Skyline. Bring your lap top computer and connect to my WiFi. If you sit in the right space you can enjoy the WiFi in the open air on the roof.

The Franklin Ave (Street — Ed. Note) shops, restaurants and bars are just around the corner. The closest Subway station is the Greenpoint Ave G, also in walking distance is the Bedford Ave L and the Vernon Blvd 7. By subway, I am located 25 minutes from Union Square, 26 minutes from Times Square, 30 minutes from Central Park, 38 minutes from Tribeca and 25 minutes from the East Village. The B61 and B43 bus stop is only a block away and very helpful when weather is uncomfortable. JFK is one hour away by public transport and LGA is 25 minutes away by Cab. Get Ready for your “morning slide!”  I look forward to meeting you. – (excised)

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So what do members of AirBnb’s “community” have to say? See for yourself. Reading is believing!

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By all appearances —and until recently yours truly lived on the block in question for ten years— these cozy accommodations appear to hail from 125 Green Street. What’s more, Google backs me up!

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The funny thing is NAG (formerly Neighbors Allied Against Garbage, now Neighbors Allied For Good Growth) tried to organize this building. Under the pretext that such industrial spaces cum artists space preserved the “artistic integrity” of the community.

Confused About The Loft Law?

One year later, there is neither a Loft Law application— nor Certificate of Occupancy for this property for that matter. But it has a cozy loft available for $975.00 a month. 

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Slide on!

P.S.: The front door of this artists’ abode has Freddy Mercury on it.

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Awesome. Totally awesome.

New York Shitty Feral Christmas Tree Watch: This May Very Well Be A Record…

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As my walk by 125 Green Street this morning, May 2nd, attests: it’s never too late to discard last year’s Yuletide cheer…

Greenpoint Photo Du Jour: Old & New

October 23, 2010 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

From Green Street.

Miss Heather

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