2007_01_surcamera.jpgIf you illegally sublet your apartment - or are an illegal subletter - watch out! The NY Times has a spooky article about the growing business of investigating illegal sublets. One private investigator says with rents skyrocketing, it's now makes economic sense for landlords to pay detectives to investigate.

The Times chats with some private eyes about scenarios they've investigated. One woman who had a $1,500 rent-regulated West Village apartment was found in South Dakota when she "applied for a license to work in the gambling industry." Another building owner answered an ad for what his detectives "call a massage" (ha!) but found himself in a building he owned! (That owner was paying $800 for rent, but actually lived in Westchester, renting the place out for "massages" for $2700.)

A tenants' lawyer tells the Times that surveillance tapes are used more and more these days. Samuel Himmelstein said, "I get a lot of clients who get these suspicious phone calls. Someone will say, ‘We have a case of wine someone wants to send you, where should we bring it?’” Oh, snap! Keep that in mind: Never ever take free cases of wine you're not expecting! And if you're renting out your cheap sublet and living somewhere else, never talk to the stranger who appears at your door and starts asking questions.