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Courtesy of Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement

Airbnb Host Rented Out Rooms That Were Illegally Built on the Roof, Officials Say

May 18, 2017

An Airbnb host in New York City got a little too creative in his pursuit of profit on the online rental service, local authorities said.

The city fined the owner of a manufacturing building thousands of dollars in addition to issuing an order for the building to be vacated after several tourists were discovered staying in Airbnb rentals that were illegally constructed on the roof of the Brooklyn property, the New York Daily News first reported.

“With illegal construction, including dangerous and unpermitted gas and electrical hookups, the property owner and an Airbnb host showed an astonishing disregard for the safety of visitors to the City," a spokesperson from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement said in a statement to Fortune.

"These rooms, on the roof of a manufacturing building in [the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn], offer one more example of how dangerous illegal rentals can be,” the spokesperson added.

The property in question had five illegally constructed residential units that were equipped with beds, bathrooms, televisions, living areas and microwaves, according to inspectors who responded to a call about them on May 11. Tourists from Minneapolis, London and Massachusetts, who were occupying the rooms at the time of the inspection, told officials that they were paying between $125 and $150 for a night's stay.

The rooms were posted on Airbnb by a man named Isaac Amar, who said in his Airbnb profile that he worked as a property manager at Seret Studios, a New York City-based building owner for apartments and film locations, the city said.

Listings for the rooftop accommodations were advertised as having "spectacular rooms" with "rooftop access" located underneath the Manhattan Bridge.

After an assessment of the "totally illegal construction," city inspectors issued a minimum of $10,000 in fines for " imminent danger to life or public safety or safety of the occupants or to property." Violations included a lack of fire alarm, unauthorized gas lines and illegally converted roof level rooms.

A number of additional daily fines could result in a total of $55,000 in fees, city officials said.

The fines were issued to the building's owner, Plymouth Realty Corporation, the city said. Amar and Plymouth could not immediately be reached for comment.

"Safety is our top priority and we have many steps in place to ensure our hosts provide a safe environment for their guests,” an Airbnb spokesperson told the Daily News. “The overwhelming majority of New York City hosts share their own home occasionally to earn a little extra money; those are the folks we're fighting to protect."

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