By Bill Parry
City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) has an Airbnb problem in his district and he’s not happy about it.
One of his constituents, Eddie Shiew, owns a three-story home in Elmhurst. Shiew recently rented the third floor, a three-bedroom apartment to Burak Firik and Dogan Kimilli for $2,500 a month, according to WPIX. Shiew found that the two renters renovated the unit without his knowledge.
“I went in the next day and found they had turned a three-bedroom into a 10-bedroom apartment,” Shiew told WPIX. Using sheetrock, a construction crew had subdivided each bedroom and then listed the micro-rooms for rent for $35 a night on Airbnb, the house-sharing website.
Shiew brought in workmen to remove the sheetrock, changed the locks on the doors and demanded the two renters leave.
“They went to court and got a court order against me,” Shiew told WPIX. “They said I illegally locked them out.”
Once back on the third floor, the two recreated the spaces for rent on Airbnb using curtains instead of sheetrock. Shiew hired an attorney and is trying to evict them.
“I am deeply disturbed by recent allegations as reported by WPIX of the illegal conversion of a three-bedroom apartment at 88-23 53rd Ave. in Elmhurst into 10 cramped rooms, which were then listed on Airbnb’s website by the renters of the apartment,” Dromm said. “This is yet another example of how Airbnb incentivizes the depletion of affordable housing stock in New York City, exacerbating our already severe housing crisis.”
Dromm called on Airbnb to immediately remove the listings for Shiew’s home and other similar listings. Then he called on the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement to launch an investigation of the owner’s complaint.
“We have suspended listings we believe are associated with this story while we investigate and we will take appropriate action,” an Airbnb spokesman said. “Situations like these are rare and we strongly oppose illegal hotels.”
Neither Firik nor Kimilli could be reached for comment.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr