Airbnb ‘bunk houses’ cited for violations

| March 31, 2016 | 0 Comments
CITY INSPECTIONS found graffiti and short-term rental violations on Gramercy Place.

CITY INSPECTIONS found graffiti and short-term rental violations on Gramercy Place.

Jason Peers first noticed a problem when a row of single-family residences on the east side of Gramercy Place was tagged for tear down.

“We were aware that a developer had essentially been going door-to-door offering large sums of money for properties in the neighborhood, particularly down Wilton, so we assumed this was the same situation and that the homes would be demolished into condos or apartments,” said Peers.

As it turns out, tearing them down would have been better than what eventually ensued.

A few weeks later, some people moved into one of the residences, drinking in the littered yard, moving on to the next house when the first home was boarded up.

“We used to joke that they were Gypsies, but it’s not really funny anymore. (They still reside in one of the homes.)”

One of the houses was eventually torn down, and the property remains a vacant “trash-filled” lot; the rest have morphed into what is a total of 16 homes renting out as “bunk houses” on Airbnb. They are on Wilton, Maplewood, Clinton and Gramercy.

Prices starting at $22 a night are posted online with images of four to eight bunk beds to a room.

Area children stopped riding their bikes on the streets, as the situation grew “out-of-control,” said Peers, who lives on Maplewood and is a former area representative on the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.

Long-term renters were forced out; yards and curbsides were no longer cared for, and people were coming and going at all hours of the night.

“We were sad that the homes were marked for tear down but now we wish they were!”

Peers contacted the city but without proof that the residences were short-term rentals was told nothing could be done.

He then inquired on renting a room at two separate Airbnb postings, and he received positive responses from “Denis” and “Eugene” with rental agreements confirming he could rent a room for two and three nights, respectively. “I forwarded that on to the city [Dept. of Building and Safety], and believe that started the wheels turning,” Peers said.

With evidence of the units being a short-term rental, an investigator was sent to the scene, Code Enforcement Bureau principal inspector John Whipple emailed Peers.

As a result of an inspection, the city Dept. of Building and Safety issued an Order to Comply to the property owner, Midcity Park LP, Michael Cohanzad, for 518 and 526 N. Gramercy Pl. A compliance date of April 10 is set with an inspection fee of $356.

According to the Code Enforcement Bureau, evidence can include rental agreements between owner and renter, or statements from the owner that he rents it out for less than 30 days.

“We cannot use online listings as evidence. Advertising a location for less than 30 days is not a violation.  It is the act of the short-term rental that makes it a violation,” Whipple told Peers.

David Lara, spokesman for LADBS, said the owner, Cohanzad, was also in violation of non-compliance fees of $336 increased to $1,176 for passing a Feb. 10 Order to Comply deadline regarding graffiti and trash at 522 N. Gramercy Pl. “The longer they let it go, the more they accumulate,” said Lara.

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Category: Real Estate

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