Opera Tower sues Airbnb, claims short-term rentals have turned Miami condo building into ‘unlicensed hotel’

(WSVN) - Just a month after a 7News investigation into pandemic parties at Miami condos, one building is taking action. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates

A DJ playing pulsating music, colorful lights and no social distancing.

The video, posted on Instagram in late July, is not from inside a club but inside a condo unit at Opera Tower in Miami.

Brian Przystup, condo unit owner: “They’re still coming in in groups with no masks, with no social distancing.”

Brian Przystup has owned a unit here since the building first opened in 2008, but the mega Miami Heat fan is fired up over what he says has been an ongoing problem.

Some owners are renting their units to a constant stream of guests.

Karen Hensel: “So did all of this force you to leave?”

Brian Przystup: “I stayed in my office a couple of nights on the weekends because the weekends are the worst.”

Now, the Opera Tower Condominium Association is asking a judge to slam the door on short-term rentals.

They are suing Airbnb, claiming the online platform “misappropriated the condominium property and turned it into its own de facto, unlicensed hotel.”

Included in the lawsuit is a link to this 7News report from August.

Resident: “You kind of feel like you’re a prisoner in your own building. It’s kind of insane.”

That’s when residents first told us a combination of COVID, loud parties and violence had turned luxury living into a nightmare.

David Ewing, resident: “We had a shooting here a couple of weeks ago.”

Police say shots were fired inside Opera Tower on June 16 after an argument, but according to the lawsuit, that’s just one incident.

The association found between 2017 and 2020, there were 397 calls to 911 and “numerous crimes” at the building, “including robberies, assaults and allegations of a rape.”

They say more than a half million dollars a year is now spent on security.

Brian Przystup: “Leaving the building and going home at night, I am literally afraid for my life. I carry mace.”

Last month, Airbnb announced a global party ban, and in response to the lawsuit, the company tells 7News: “All Airbnb users agree to comply with applicable laws and regulations … and we have shared the Opera Tower Association’s concerns with members of our host community.”

Residents have been sharing their concerns with us with videos and pictures of continued condo commotion. From people appearing to sneak in through the garage, to lines in the lobby and busted elevator buttons.

They’ve also taken to social media to document those concerns.

Social Media video: “It’s 11:57pm. Opera is going full force. Very little social distancing.”

Brian Przystup: “I am not going to stop my mission until every short-term rental is out of that building, and we regain our safety, our livelihood.”

Two days after our first story on Opera Tower, this cease and desist letter was posted at the building. It’s from the City of Miami announcing an investigation into short-term rentals and any violations of city code. The association has also filed lawsuits against two individual unit owners.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.