NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Even if you live in a busy apartment building, your home is still supposed to be a sanctuary.
But when a luxury building is overrun with strangers, constantly coming and going due to illegal rentals, chaos ensues.
The “units” being referred to are apartments in the Atelier, a luxury high rise on West 42nd Street in Manhattan.
An owner, renter, and former owner, wish to remain anonymous because of the publicity the building received when it was targeted last October by one of the biggest raids ever on illegal short term rentals.
“We sent approximately 20 inspectors to the building to conduct inspections of dozens of units and we found nearly 30 units being occupied by short term residents illegally,” Christian Klossner, the executive director for the Office of Special Enforcement said.
“New Yorkers have a right to feel safe and secure in their homes and buildings and communities. When the unit next door is supposed to be your neighbor, part of your community is being occupied by a random flow of strangers.”
The summonses detail converted residences, and cite partitions put up illegally. Shortly after the raid, an Atelier resident shot video of mattresses, furniture, and partitions that were thrown out.
Residents claim nearly 100 of the 475 apartments were used in the illegal hotel-like operation. Some say they were so angered by the blatant use of apartments for Airbnb rentals, they secretly documented the violations.
They claim people they filmed are short term renters in the lobby, elevators, and being escorted in by a rear door. Additionally, residents say hotel-type service carts for cleaning were often seen in the building, along with towels, and additional furniture marked for apartments stored in the basement and other areas.
“I don’t know what’s going on in my apartment… Lack of trust and lack of transparency,” an anonymous tenant told CBS2’s Dick Brennan.
“I would like this beautiful building be safe and run with proper people with who we trust,” another resident said.
Dan Neiditch is the condo board president and on site broker. Tenants say he has also instigated legal actions against those who have questioned management’s role in the illegal rentals.
“When they were speaking out against this rampant illegality they were simply hit with fines from the board,” attorney Massimo D’Angelo said.
Neiditch did not respond to CBS2’s repeated request for comment. D’Angelo is representing a group of unit owners who want this illegal hotel operation permanently shut down.
“There are two real concerns. Fire life safety issues and the other situation is… you’re taking away from the city’s copious amount of hotel occupancy tax,” the attorney explained.
“What we found in this building unfortunately is just one example of the kind of extensive abuse we see from professional operators who are turning homes into pure profit.”
The attorney for the residents added that since the original raid, the illegal hotel-type operation has abated, but expects it will ramp up again, as the busy summer tourist season approaches.