Noelle Penraat is a prime exemplar of the money-making prospects currently available via Airbnb: the 62-year-old New York native made $61,000 off of her sprawling Upper West Side duplex in just nine months.
But now, like many of the home-sharing startup’s most entrepreneurial hosts, Penraat is weathering a regulatory onslaught. A New York City judge ruled earlier this week that she must stop renting out rooms in the apartment immediately, and that her landlord has grounds to evict her, according to the New York Post.
That’s because Penraat “has been profiteering from a rent-controlled apartment partially subsidized by another government program,” wrote Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead in her injunction. (Because she makes less than $50,000 per year, the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Program exempts Penraat from any rent increases.)
And like countless other New York City residents, Penraat’s neighbors have also taken umbrage with her revolving door. One submitted to the court that the “constant barrage of strangers” left him fearing for the safety of his family. Penraat’s building also contains a Montessori school attended by 175 children, according to the Post.
Penraat, who has hosted 135 guests since February 2012 and could have earned as much as $118,300 on an annual basis, argued that there was nothing illegal about renting three of the apartment’s four bedrooms to “roommates,” reports Law360. But Edmead shot her down.
In New York, the battle against Airbnb is highly fraught. Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released a scathing report claiming that 72 percent of all rentals in the city are illegal. And unlike other major U.S. cities like San Francisco -- where Airbnb rentals are slated to become legal in February -- Penraat’s case seems to suggest that New York City regulators aren’t willing to back down.
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