Word to the wise, entrepeneurs: if you're going to break your fancy condo building's rules in order to make a few extra bucks, maybe don't brag about all that rule-breaking on the Internet. One Upper West Side condo-dwelling couple who'd been renting out their place for $250-a-night and blogging about it learned that the hard way, when their building's board got tired of being a bed-and-breakfast and decided to sue them for every documented violation.
Native South Africans Gavin and Jodi Samuels have owned two condo apartments in a building on Central Park West for about a decade, but they haven't spent much time living in them: the couple, both of whom work remotely, travel a lot, and they allegedly rent out their space for $250 a night/$1,400 a week while they're gone. "Last year we spent 110 days away from home," Jodi Samuels wrote on a blog she keeps on a website for Jewish mothers. "Best of all, we rent our apartment out while we travel and, New York being New York, we make good money." Her blog also details the family's extensive travels, which have included trips to Egypt, Dubai and Jackson, Wyoming, all the while keeping the apartment stocked with paying visitors. Unfortunately, using the condo as a boarding house violates the building's by-laws, and since the infraction was advertised—both on Jodi Samuels' blog and on various websites for sublet-seekers—the two have been found out.
Now, the board's suing the Samuels', and they're asking for $500 for every documented instance n which the apartment was rented out. The board's filing also alleges that the Samuels, who run an organization for Jewish newcomers to New York from overseas, held big dinner parties and charged $25-$40 a head for admission, and ran $15-a-head cooking classes, though Gavin Samuels denies that admission was charged in either case. The board issued a $5,500 fee and a cease-and-desist directive earlier this year, which, sadly for the Samuels', might curb their travels a bit.