An Airbnb host is being sued for $1.5 million for illegally renting out swanky New York apartments while failing to pay the rent himself.
Konrad Bicher, 30, let out luxury apartments across Manhattan, as he is accused of owing more than $450,000 in rent for apartments he leased in Harlem and Hell’s Kitchen.
He also used Airbnb to let apartments in the MiMa building on 450 West 42nd Street, which was used to host short Airbnb stays, music videos and photo shoots.
These are prestigious properties which sell for between $1.5 million and $6.5 million, or cost between $4,000 and $10,000 to rent per month.
Bircher avoided paying rent using the eviction moratorium against landlords, the property owners told New York publication The Real Deal.
The man himself described himself on a text: “The Wolf of Airbnb: It means someone who is hungry and ruthless enough to get on top of the financial ladder.
“They compare the ferocity to that of a wolf, because wolves are territorial, vicious and show no mercy when provoked.”
His social media accounts have been deleted, but they previously contained photos of Bircher enjoying the high life, like private jets and travelling.
However in five instances he used hardship declarations to say he couldn’t pay his rent due to the pandemic, court records show.
Attorneys for one of the affected landlords filed a lawsuit against Bircher, writing: “His modus operandi is to enter into leases for Manhattan residential apartments or, as here, worm his way into occupancy, and to run a type of ‘bust-out’ operation.
“That includes renting the apartment out as a profit center through Airbnb, Peerspace and other similar platforms for short-term rentals, failing to pay rent, using the pandemic and laws related thereto to delay any proceedings, and to vacate on the point of eviction.”