NYC Takes On Illegal Hotel Scheme

344 E 51st St.

August 1, 2022 4:07 PM

New York City is suing to shut down a $2 million illegal hotel operation plaguing the East Side.

The City has accused Real Estate Broker Arron Latimer and several co-defendants of operating illegal hotels via Airbnb in six residential buildings, including all eight residential apartments at 344 East 51st Street. By using fake host profiles to skirt City Law, Latimer is accused of renting out the apartments to 6,500 guests and generating $2 million over the last four years. The City is seeking both an injunction (to shut down the operation) and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. 

“We will not allow bad actors to deplete our housing stock and undermine our hospitality sector," New York City Mayor Eric Adams told the press. "For years, Arron Latimer and the other defendants used fake host profiles on popular sites like Airbnb to deceive and lure unsuspecting guests into paying for substandard lodging at illegal rental listings. Not only did they unlawfully pocket millions, but they endangered guests and deprived New Yorkers of an entire building's worth of long-term housing.” 


Illegal hotels like those run by Latimer hurt everyday New Yorkers. They lure guests away from the legitimate hotel industry where our members have good jobs, disrupt working-class neighborhoods, dominate headlines with reports of parties, drug use, and prostitution, and take away already limited housing. 

Over the last ten years, at the urging of our Union, New York City has passed common sense regulations to stop the use of websites such as Airbnb to run these illegal hotels. The City has hired a team to investigate reports of illegal hotels and gone to Court to fight for better tools to catch the worst lawbreakers. 

It was one of the recent regulations supported by our Union – a 2018 law that required Airbnb to share data with the City – which enabled the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) to identify the illegal hotel scheme on East 51st Street and gather evidence. 

"We thank Mayor Adams and his Office of Special Enforcement for taking action against those that willfully violate our housing laws at the expense of New York City residents,” remarked HTC President Rich Maroko. “With enforcement actions like this, we can help make the City more affordable and more livable, as well as promote safer, legitimate accommodations for tourists."