A Manhattan judge ordered Eileen Hickey, a New York-based artist, to vacate her rent-stabilized apartment by June 9th and pay a whopping $185,000 fine for illegally subletting it through Airbnb. The lawsuit began in 2014, after Hickey’s landlord, Robert Moskowitz, caught a Spanish subletter hanging a banner from the Hickey’s fire escape to guide friends to the apartment. The New York Post reports that Hickey’s rent runs around $1,500 per month. Meanwhile, the landlord claims she had been making about $4,500 a month by renting out the apartment through Airbnb. Hickey, who also owns an East Village condo, claimed she rented out the unit to pay off her former husband’s medical bills. But she lost the case after failing to hand over court-ordered documents.
Hickey’s individual actions aside, it is important to remember that many SoHo artists fought, and continue to fight, for their rent-stabilized units, which make living in New York City affordable to thousands of low- and middle-income people.