Landlord claims tenants illegally turned three-bedroom apartment into 10 bedrooms

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NEW YORK — Eddie Shiew owns a three-story home in Elmhurst, Queens, as a rental property. He recently rented the third floor, a three-bedroom apartment, to Burak Firik and Dogan Kimilli for $2,500 a month.

But after signing the lease, the landlord says he got a call from one of the tenants on the first floor telling him it appeared that construction was going on in the third floor.

Shiew told PIX11 he went to the building and found that the third floor was in fact being renovated without his knowledge.

“I went in the next day and found they had turned a three-bedroom into a 10-bedroom apartment."

Shiew said it appeared that through the use of sheetrock, a construction crew had divided each bedroom into three small bedrooms.

He says he then discovered that Firik and Kimilli were listing the rooms for rent on, a website for people looking for a cheap place to stay for a short time, usually in someone’s home.

And airbnb customers are who PIX11 found living in the apartment.

PIX11 spoke with two tourists who were paying $35 dollars a night for a room on the third floor.

When the landlord found out what was going on, he brought some workmen in and tore down all the renovations, changed the locks on the doors, and demanded that Firik and Kimilli leave.

But the two men took the landlord to court.

“They went to court and got a court order against me, “ Shiew said.  “They said I illegally locked them out.”

The judge ordered the landlord to let Firik and Kimilli back into the apartment. While they haven’t done any more renovations, they are creating spaces to rent on airbnb by using curtains as room dividers.

The landlord has hired an attorney and is trying to evict them, claiming the two men violated the terms of the lease. The lease says “except as authorized by the consent of the Landlord, Tenants will not make any repairs or alterations to the premises."

But Firik texted the landlord, “we know the laws very well, you’ll not be able to evict us ever.”

The landlord’s attorney says he expects the court will order Firik and Kimilli out within a couple of months.

PIX11 spoke with Firik by phone, who refused to do an on-camera interview and denied doing renovations to the apartment.

He claims he and Kimilli live in the apartment, but the airbnb tenants said they have never met the guys renting the apartment.

They say they pay airbnb online.


  • Chris

    It is illegal for a landlord to change the locks without going through the evictions process. That is why the tenants were able to get back into their apartment. As for the tenants if they are actually doing this, then they have breached their lease and that’s grounds for eviction.

      • Lindsay

        He never said that the renovations were not illegal, you are the one who sounds stupid because he is 100% right. If you knew anything about the law the renovations were not a breach of the lease unless the landlord stated so in the lease agreement which the news story does not mention. A landlord cannot enter a rented dwelling unless a written 24 hour consent is delivered and you cannot change the locks unless the tenants have had a timely chance to retrieve their items only if they’ve violated the lease agreement. They will however be evicted based on the fact that they have violated the clause in the lease stating that no renovations can be made to the rental unit.

      • Terrina Stump

        Lindsay, clearly you didn’t read the article “The lease says “except as authorized by the consent of the Landlord, Tenants will not make any repairs or alterations to the premises.””

  • Suzy Hinkle

    It sounds like the landlord didn’t give them time to leave but if he can prove ongoing damage to the building perhaps they courts will evict them anyway. I would think there would be a Fire code violation considering the number of people there. That alone should be grounds for their removal.

  • Kelly Richard Taylor

    Here’s my 2 cents. The guy may have a legal leg to stand on but still has to provide proper notice to vacate, etc. He does NOT have an ETHICAL leg to stand on as the apartment in question is part of a home converted in to apartments. Where does he think they got the idea? “You know, Farik… we could put up some walls & rent out tiny rooms on Airbnb!”
    What the landlord needs to do is contact Airbnb & tell them the units are illegal & unavailable.

  • MeMyselfAndI

    Plus don’t those buildings have to be zoned? I think there is a difference between a building allowing maybe 6 bedrooms and 16 bedrooms.

  • Sherry Straus

    This is what’s wrong with the world,people who feel entitled to do whatever they want even if they break the law doing it.This judge needs to be kicked off the bench as do most who cannot see what’s in front of them. Bragging that they know the law and will not be kicked out goes to show you what type of people they are.

  • Hermann Reiner

    NYC law says not more than 3 unrelated occupants in one apartment, meaning you have to be a relative if more than 3 in an apartment

  • TED

    The landlord owns the apartment and therefore he owns the electrical, plumbing etc. He can hire an electrician to cut all of the electrical outlets out and leave with no lights or heat. He can also remove any plumbing so that there is no running water. Eventually the losers will have to leave.

    • Hope

      I doubt very much that he could do either to force them to leave. Certain things have to be in working order before a unit can be rented. Deliberately cutting the power or tampering with the pipes will just have the tenants taking the landlord back to court, claiming that the landlord is deliberately making the unit unfit for habitation in an effort to get rid of them. The landlord’s best bet is what he’s doing, attempting to evict them for doing unauthorized alterations. I hope the landlord got really good pictures and the names and addresses of the people who were staying there as AirB&B renters, he will need them when he takes them to court.

  • Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman

    2 things…
    1. Autoplaying advertisement videos does not help with referrals or any other realistic type of profitable conversion/metric.. so since it’s not 2000 please stop autoplaying irrelevant spam.
    2. Is Salt Lake City really that boring that it needs to cover New York City news?

  • Debbie

    I had this happen to me. Tenants built walls and put in doors. When I contacted my insurance company to claim the damages that exceeded the security deposit, the insurance company denied my claim, stating that it wasn’t considered vandalism. Thank you State Farm.
    PS…I did obtain a judgement for the damages and back rent totaling almost $8000, but they are no where to be found.

  • jamisonrn

    Do you pay utilities? If you do they are stealing utilities from you. Also the next time you rent to someone get each person’s name and ID of the renters of the apartment. Have a clause that visitors have to be registered with you before they stay overnight.

  • Barbara Curran Castillo

    This is friggin NORMAL in Elmhurst and Jackson Heights… I’ve lived in these types of places… They put up sheetrock to divide the bedrooms then put AC units in the walls for comfort. They charge weekly rent, mostly latino immigrants in the places I’ve lived, but yes, QUITE NORMAL.

  • kel

    Wow see how some ofThese people do this.. come here and just do what they want …bunch of con artists! and notice how they are renting only to foriegners… hope the landlord kicks em out on there BUtts

  • jan

    Renovation is legal as long as the tenants live there. But when the lease expires, the apartment should be handed over in the same condition prior to possession.

    • Will Blue

      No it isn’t you cant change anything with out permission with the clause in the lease. Hanging pictures is about it.

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