R&E member Michael A. Pensabene presented a CLE on Airbnb for the Jack Newton Lerner Landlord Tenant Practice Institute held at the New York County Lawyers Association which included a mock trial. The Honorable Jack Stoller presided over the trial which Pensabene based on characters from the “Seinfeld” television series. Catharine A. Grad, Esq. represented “Jerry” who Pensabene sought to evict.
Pensabene crafted the following fact pattern as background for the trial:
From January 2018 to December 2018, Jerry had to travel to Los Angeles for two weeks every month. Each time Jerry went to Los Angeles, his neighbor, Kramer, played by Nesheiwat, advertised and rented Jerry’s apartment on Aibnb, without Jerry’s knowledge. Kramer collected payment on his PayPal account, on a per diem basis, at a rate that was higher than the preferential rent Jerry paid, but less than the legal rent for the apartment. Newman, Jerry’s neighbor downstairs, became annoyed with all of the tourists in the building, so he notified the landlord of the Airbnb use, and they began building a case against Jerry. In September 2018, Jerry’s friend, Elaine Benes, learned of Kramer’s antics and notified Jerry, who initially agreed to let Kramer keep his Airbnb bookings through December 2018, in exchange for half of the Airbnb proceeds that Kramer collected. However, once the landlord served Jerry with a notice of termination, Jerry attempted to “cure” by returning money to the Airbnb guests, but he only managed to return money to three of them.
Many thanks to all who participated in this creative and exciting CLE, which kept attendees, the jury of the trial, laughing and reminiscing over Seinfeld episodes while learning landlord / tenant law surrounding Airbnb in NYC.