Bayside residents: squatters put foreclosed home on Airbnb

March 28, 2022

Originally published in NY1 Spectrum News on March 25, 2022.

In this section of Bayside, Queens — the streets are leafy — there are even white picket fences. It’s as suburban a scene as the city gets.

It was a completely different scene when gunshots rang out around 3 a.m. last Saturday morning. Police say a teenager was shot, while on his way to a party.

“Guns started being pulled out and 20 plus shots, enough is enough,” said Stephen Markowski, a Bayside resident

 

Markowski has lived nearby on 38th Avenue for 22 years — he says it’s always been pretty quiet. That is, until his neighbor’s home went into foreclosure. About two years ago, he noticed a lot of people coming and going from the home — which was vacant.

“We said, 'watch it’s probably squatters, renting it out on Airbnb.' Sure enough, we go on Airbnb. There it is, the house,” said Markowski.

An Airbnb listing, that has been taken down advertised “keep it simple at this peaceful and centrally-located place.”

“The squatters have been creative and they create new accounts and they continue to pop back up. So we've been in contact with Airbnb to take a more proactive approach to making sure that these listings don't pop up again,” said Sen. Edward Braunstein, who represents the area.

An Airbnb spokesperson tells NY1 the company takes this very seriously and has suspended the listing and canceled reservations at the property pending a thorough investigation. Sen. John Liu says now the city needs to step in.

“Specifically the Department of Buildings, to go take a look at what’s happening at this house. And issue a vacate order, get these people out,” said Liu.

A Department of Buildings spokesperson tells NY1, the agency does not issue vacate orders just because something at the property is illegal or because of landlord-tenant disputes that should be adjudicated in Housing Court. He added DOB inspectors will be routed to the building in the coming days to investigate recent 311 complaints about work done without permits.

As for the home’s former owner John Carollo, he says he signed all of his rights away when the home went into foreclosure in 2018.

"This is long before the squatters took possession of this home. Okay. Can't do anything about it. My hands are tied,” said Carollo.

The CEO of American Mortgage IP, which currently holds the title for the house, says the house is set to go to auction in June. He says the situation in Bayside is an example of a large endemic problem in New York — how long it takes to foreclose on a property.

NY1 tried to talk to whoever is living here now —  but while two cars were parked in the driveway — no one answered the door.