Victoria Secret model and app developer Lyndsey Scott is in hot water after allegedly misrepresenting her Roosevelt Island apartment on Airbnb, according to a lawsuit filed by West Coast lawyer Christian Pugaczewski.
The Shearman and Sterling associate says that he was expecting an apartment with “fashionable décor,” a “comfy yet modern vibe” and “plenty [of] necessary amenities” – as described in reviews — when he agreed to pay more than $9,000 through Airbnb.
“The apartment itself is fitted out with all the mod cons.” ‘Fabbiha,’ posted in a review from January 2016. A year before, ‘Shruti’ wrote that the apartment is in a “safe environment.”
Airbnb, which is also named in the suit, verified the photos in the listing. However, “the photos verified by Airbnb, and reviews posted to Airbnb’s website purporting to be from individuals who stayed at the property all misled [Pugaczewski] into believing that he was renting a property materially different from the property portrayed,” the lawsuit states.
Pugaczewski claims that what he discovered was an apartment building with broken windows, stained concrete, poor lighting and overgrown vegetation. He was also unhappy when he learned that the building at 540 Main Street was built in 1969 as subsidized housing complex for low-income tenants.
Outside of Airbnb, the building was described as, “The most disgusting place I ever lived,” according to a resident on Apartmentratings.com. Other reviewers wrote that it suffered from problems like drugs, smoking, roaches, noise and dirty carpets. When Pugaczewski arrived, he says he became “extremely concerned by several menacing figures loitering by the poorly lit entrance.”
He paid his driver $40 to walk him upstairs to the apartment, and noted a “strong odor of drugs.” After viewing the apartment in person, he was once again appalled by damage to the floors, walls and furniture, dirty windowsills, an exposed roach trap and “dilapidated rugs and paint.”
“Because of fear for his safety, [Pugaczewski] stayed the evening and left the apartment at 5:00 a.m., rented a car (at a cost of approximately $73) and returned to the building after work at 5:00 p.m. to collect his belongings and vacate the property,” the lawsuit claims.
He says that during the next two weeks, he was forced to sleep on a relative’s pull-out sofa, an hour outside of New York City. He then rented an apartment near Roosevelt Island for roughly $19,000.
“It is an unfortunate situation and hopefully it won’t drag out,” Pugaczewski told LLNYC. Scott, who is the first African-American model ever to land a Calvin Klein exclusive during fashion week, sent LLNYC the following statement:
“I acknowledge Mr. Pugaczewski’s complaints and am working closely with Airbnb to ensure this is settled in a fair and just manner. I wholeheartedly respect Airbnb’s standards and have worked tirelessly to ensure renters have had an above average experience, as evidenced in my 5 star rating on Airbnb.com. Roosevelt Island is a beautiful neighborhood in New York City, known for its sense of community, family environment and diversity – all traits I wholeheartedly embrace. I have always felt safe in my apartment and proud to call Roosevelt Island my home. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused Mr. Pugaczewski. The photos, description and reviews included in the listing are verifiable and accurate.”
It is worth noting that Scott’s portrayal of her home is a far cry from Pugaczewski. In a 2009 interview with W Magazine, Scott was asked why she lives on Roosevelt Island.
“My apartment’s bigger for less money, and it’s a nice little community. I do community service and teach theatre classes to local kids when I’m not traveling,” she said.
Pugaczewski is seeking actual and punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees.