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City Issues Partial Vacate Order at Trump's Boyhood Home

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 15, 2017 3:24pm | Updated on September 18, 2017 7:18am
 The house at 85-15 Wareham Place, where Donald Trump lived as a boy.
The house at 85-15 Wareham Place, where Donald Trump lived as a boy.
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Paul Brainard

QUEENS — The city issued a partial vacate order at President Donald Trump’s boyhood home, which has recently been listed on Airbnb, after the owners illegally converted the basement into an apartment, city records show.

The five-bedroom, Tudor-style house, at 85-15 Wareham Place in the affluent Jamaica Estates neighborhood, where Trump lived until he was 4, was sold at an auction in January for $2.14 million. In August, the new owners listed it on Airbnb with a price tag of $725 per night. 

But shortly after that, the city received complaints from Community Board 8 and via 311 about the illegal conversion conducted in the basement, officials said.

The basement is not part of the Airbnb listing which advertises the other portions of the house, according to Airbnb.

CB8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide said Friday that the board received a number of phone calls and emails with complaints that there are people illegally living in the basement.

“Once we receive complaints, we have to act,” she said.

CB8 then notified the Department of Buildings, which referred the case to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement investigating illegal conversions.

“The basement of this Queens home was illegally converted into an apartment, creating potentially dangerous hazards for the tenant, emergency responders and neighbors," said Christian Klossner, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement.

“We urge anyone who has concerns about building safety and transient use to file a complaint with 311,” he added.

The city, which issued three violations and a partial vacate order following its Aug. 22 inspection, said that one tenant appeared to be renting the space in the basement, which did not have required safe exits, officials said.

The owners, the city said, also remodeled the basement without the permits necessary to build partitions to create a bedroom in the cellar, and to install water and waste lines for the bathroom and kitchen sink.

Adam-Ovide also said that CB8 wants the property to be taken off Airbnb all together because the current zoning for the area does not allow properties to be used as “transient accommodations.”

“And it’s not because of Trump’s house in particular,” she added. “It is for all the homes in our area.”

But the city, which also received complaints about the issue, said inspectors found no evidence of illegal transient occupancy. A representative for the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement said that depending on a number of factors, it may be lawful to have up to two guests who stay there for less than 30 days. 

Initially, the ad claimed the house can host up to 20 people, but as of Friday morning, the listing said that the property features 16 beds and can accommodate up to two people. 

And while the listing appeared to be active, it did not seem to be possible to make a reservation until Sept. 6, 2020, and even then it was available only for nine days, before appearing to be booked again.

Airbnb said in a statement that "all hosts, whether they are a home-owner or an official bed and breakfast, must affirm that they follow all safety laws and regulations."

An Airbnb listing for Donald Trump's childhood home in Jamaica Estates said there was a cutout of the president in the living room. (Photo: Airbnb)

The property was purchased by an entity called Trump Birth House LLC, although the name of the person behind it has not been revealed.

Michael Tang, a lawyer representing Trump Birth House, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Trump’s father built the 2,500-square-foot home in 1940. The family later moved to a larger house on Midland Parkway.

The issue was first reported by the Queens Chronicle.