Two NYC Landlords Outslick, Bust Tenant For Illegally $ubletting Rent-Regulated Apartment As 'Hotel Room'; Use Private Investigator Posing As Tourist To Nab Renter Who Now Faces The Boot
In New York City, the New York Post reports:
- Two Nolita landlords went the extra step to nail a tenant they suspected of illegally renting out her pad online to strangers — by hiring a private eye to pose as a tourist to catch her in the act.
Building owners and siblings Ken and Susan Podziba shelled out $20,000 for the ploy — and say it was well worth the dough.
They found that tenant Amy Parness has been flagrantly flouting a recent legal ruling that declared short-term online sublets illegal, by pulling in $4,500 a month for her rent-stabilized one-bedroom pad — for which she pays $1,400 — according to Manhattan Housing Court papers.
Parness — the 38-year-old niece of a retired Manhattan Supreme Court judge — rents out her walk-up unit for $220 a night to strangers through travel Web sites, the court documents state.
Meanwhile, Parness, who owns the Web site SparkleLabs, which sells gadgets to tech geeks, lives with her Parsons professor husband, Ariel Churi, in Montclair, NJ, the Podzibas said.
In May, a judge ruled that such online hotelier practices violate city codes and state law. Still, industry leaders estimate 3,000 New Yorkers rent out their apartments to visitors, making an expected $1 billion in profits this year.
The Podzibas said Parness reaped a total estimated $500,000 from illicit rentals in the past four years.
They said in court papers seeking her eviction that she not only rents out her own apartment, but had handled the subletting of two other tenants’ pads in the eight-unit building, taking a cut for her services.
“She’s the tenant from hell,” Ken Podziba said.
Parness — who allegedly uses her middle name, Magdalena, on the Web sites — is the leaseholder of Apartment No. 3 at 250 Elizabeth St., but the Podzibas say they have documented evidence that she lists the unit on Airbnb and Roomorama.com as a “Nolita Nest” at 250 Mott St.
When the private investigator, posing as a tourist, queried her about the discrepancy, Parness claimed it was an error by the travel sites, legal papers say.
Her apartment is fully booked through the end of the summer, online records show.
On July 9, Parness’ lawyer told Housing Court Judge Sheldon Halprin that Parness’ stepbrother was staying in the unit through August.
But the Podzibas seemed to have caught her in a lie — they confronted the tenant, who admitted in an affidavit that he’s a Stanford University student interning in New York for the summer.
“I’m not a friend or relative of Magdalena,” the tenant said in the statement, adding that he rented the place through Airbnb.
Parness replied to e-mail messages but declined to answer questions about the apartment.