We're used to hearing bad things about 'old futon as DIY hotel' website Airbnb but not so much with its lesser known competition HomeAway.
From the EV Grieve inbox we are getting word from a resident of South Africa that there is possibly an illegal hotel room operating at 528 E. 13th Street ... in which the host may have walked off with the traveler's $200 deposit. Says her email:
"Good morning. I wonder if you could help me in anyway possible. I think I've been scammed, trying to rent an apartment listed on airbnb.com. The address 528 East 13th street, and investigating a bit, I came across your blog that reported on the collapse of part of the building.
I've paid a $200 deposit, and have since not heard from 'Andy Melton.' This is the 2nd time I've been scammed in 14 months trying to book an apartment in NYC, after having rented several different ones over the last 8 years.
The listing on Homeaway, not AirBnb as she mistakenly writes, was placed by someone who says he's a Property Manager at CitiStyle NYC, a relatively new company with offices at 444 Park Avenue. Melton previously emailed her info on the listing:
Thank you very much for your inquiry. This spacious and stylish alcove studio on 528 East 13th in the East Village is available for $150 a night plus a $70 cleaning fee for your desired dates. The total would be $1120. We don’t charge taxes or any other fees.
If interested in booking please let me know and I will forward you the rental agreement with the booking check in details.
Please feel free to let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.
All the best,
CitiStyle NYC Property Manager
The HomeAway listing titled 'Stylish Alcove Studio in Great East Village Locale.' The interior shots of the apartment look too staged for a real person to be living there.
CitiStyle NYC has three listings — the East 13th Street unit and two in Midtown.
The area code listed for CitiStyle NYC is based in Northern Illinois...
This same number shows up on a Craigslist ad for a Wall Street "luxury rental" that someone named Blake is offering for "for $120 from February 14th to February 15th."
New York law prohibits stays of less than 30 days in all Class A buildings in the five boroughs. (We checked to see if 528 E. 13th St. was a Class A or B building, but there wasn't a Certificate of Occupancy of file with the DOB. See here.)
Anyway, perhaps someone at 528 E. 13th St. knows more about the apartment?
Thanks to new EV Grieve contributor Atomic for helping put together this post...
Updated July 6:
See response from Andy Melton of CitiStyle NYC in the comments...