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Artist Evicted, Hit With $185K Fine For Putting Rent-Stabilized Loft On Airbnb

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Artist Evicted, Hit With $185K Fine For Putting Rent-Stabilized Loft On Airbnb
460 Greenwich St.

A New York City artist lost her rent-stabilized apartment and was ordered to pay a $185K fine for renting out the space illegally on Airbnb.

Eileen Hickey had lived in the full-floor loft in Tribeca for 43 years, and was paying a rent of $1,500 for the unit, the New York Post reports. She pulled in $4,500 a month by renting it out on Airbnb, her landlord claimed in court documents.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Nancy Bannon this week gave Hickey until June 9 to leave the apartment, and told a city sheriff to “take all necessary steps ... to effect the removal and ejection of Eileen Hickey” from the home.

She was first sued by the landlord at 460 Greenwich St., Robert Moskowitz, in 2014. He said he caught Hickey in the act when a Spanish Airbnb guest hung a banner on the fire escape of the apartment.

“Hickey has engaged in outrageous behavior using her rent-stabilized apartment as an illegal hotel,” Moskowitz said in court papers, according to the Post. “She has engaged in rent profiteering and commercial exploitation ... Her actions are in violation of the [state] Rent Stabilization Code and a number of other laws.”

Hickey said she was using Airbnb to deal with a family medical crisis, and was in the process of paying the money back to guests. She owns a condo in the East Village, but claims it is used for an office.

The $185K fine is believed to be highest in the country for an Airbnb offense. Airbnb operators who list multiple properties on the service have previously been fined a total of more than $1M by the city.

New York's rent-stabilization code does not allow tenants to make money from a dwelling if they have a below-market-rate apartment. Last year, the city started enforcing the law levying fines on tenants who rent out a full apartment as a short-term rental, in an effort to add those units back into the housing supply.

Earlier this month, the city released a report claiming that Airbnb had cost New Yorkers at least $616M by pushing up rents. Airbnb disputed the city's findings.