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May 13, 2024

Owner of Airbnb rental units sues West Hartford ZBA

HBJ PHOTO | DAVID KRECHEVSKY This house at 146 Raymond Road in West Hartford is one of three the town wants owner Mark Chu to remove from Airbnb.

Mark Chu will have his day in court.

Chu, owner of the real estate development company Instant Property Solutions in Farmington, has filed a civil lawsuit against the town of West Hartford after its Zoning Board of Appeals denied his request to overturn cease and desist orders to stop listing properties in town on Airbnb and Vrbo.

The six-page lawsuit, filed Thursday in Hartford Superior Court, lists both Chu and Instant Property Solutions LLC (ISP) as the plaintiffs and the West Hartford ZBA as the defendant.

Chu and his business own four properties in West Hartford Center located at 136, 146, 150 and 152 Raymond Road. He acquired the properties in June 2023 for a combined $1.5 million.

Chu has said he purchased the homes to use as short-term rentals; one of the homes had been listed on Airbnb for several years by the previous owner.

The town subsequently issued cease-and-desist orders for three of the properties, demanding he remove their listings. According to the lawsuit, the town claimed the listing violated both its zoning ordinances and the allowed accessory uses contained in an attachment to the ordinances. 

Chu appealed the three enforcement orders, and the ZBA heard his appeal during a public hearing held April 17. The panel then denied his appeals.

According to the lawsuit, the ZBA “abused its discretion and acted contrary to established Connecticut law” when it denied his appeals. It adds the ZBA also:
Failed to correctly interpret sections of town zoning regulations.
Improperly determined that ISP did not have the right to continue the “long-standing use of its properties for the purpose of short-term rentals,” and
Failed to “cite any substantial pertinent evidence in the [r]ecord to support its decision.”

The lawsuit asks the court to rule in its favor, order that “ISP’s use of its property be allowed” and vacate the zoning enforcement order. 

The lawsuit does not seek damages, asking only that the town pay the plaintiffs’ court costs “as provided by law.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of ISP and Chu by attorney Forrest A. Noirot of the Simsbury-based law firm Hassett & George P.C.

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