AirBNB Guest Refuses To Leave Condo, Tries To Air-Condition The Desert

An AirBNB “guest” is taking advantage of gaps between the site’s policies and California rental law to squat indefinitely in a Palm Springs condo. Does that sound like a sharing economy nightmare? It is.

The one bit of good news is that the “host” didn’t rent out her primary residence while she happened to be out of town: no, she rented out her vacation home for 44 days. The problem is that 30 days into the stay, the guest quit paying. Why 30 days? After renting a place that long, a tenant, even a temporary one, gains rights to their new “home” under California law. Now it will cost the homeowner thousands of dollars in legal fees and take three to six months to evict the unwanted tenants.

He had complaints about the condo initially, but now isn’t budging. The owner says that the power usage is quadruple the normal levels while the home is occupied or rented out, perhaps because the tenant has been leaving doors and windows open with the air conditioning on.

AirBNB says that they’re compensating the homeowner while the squatter stays, and after the San Francisco Chronicle got involved, the company has also offered to help with her legal fees. “I don’t think they’re equipped to deal with this type of situation,” she told the Chronicle. “I’d like to see them change some policies and improve customer service so they can help people should something like this happen.”
The problem for AirBNB hosts is that in a crisis like this, they can expect to get an e-mail response from the company within 48 hours, and there’s no “guest won’t leave my home” crisis hotline.

Squatters don’t sit well with Airbnb hosts [San Francisco Chronicle] (via ABC News – auto-play video)

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  1. furiousd says:

    I’ve never understood why the law sides with a temporary resident rather than the legal owner of a property. Further, why doesn’t she just turn off the utilities? Or is that a protection afforded the invader as well?

    • It’s illegal to turn off the electricity.

      • furiousd says:

        I found the one for California:

        It seems like there should be equal protections for tenants and landlords. In this situation, clearly the person intended to take advantage of the greater legal protection given to tenants. I have some friends who shared stories of their parents taking advantage of similar laws in Tennessee. When growing up, their parents would move in, pay for one or two months, then wait for the ~6 months eviction process to take place, usually moving into a new place around the 5 month mark after finding somewhere else. Not for lack of ability, but lack of willingness to use the money for rent, as agreed.

        These are certainly fringe situations, but the law is biased in my unprofessional opinion.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      I would draw up some fake paperwork backdated to the day they stopped paying. Wait until they left for the store, break in, change the locks, set up a new renter in there matching the new paperwork. Throw all the squatter’s stuff away a few counties over and pretend like they moved on out on their own a while back. “Oh, the Robinsons? They’ve been staying here for a couple of weeks, now. There’s no way Mr. Smith could have been staying here all this time. I have no idea where his stuff is, I assume he took it with him the day he left. He was a lovely guest.”

      I know, it would never work, but still…

      • furiousd says:

        See the link I posted above. Unfortunately each of those things is specifically addressed in the law as ways that you are not allowed to retake possession of your property. It is quite nice of AirBnb to front the bill. I’m assuming the “tenant” won’t be permitted to use their service again. Realistically they should be tried for fraud, and spend the remainder of the eviction time in prison.

        • MarthaGaill says:

          See, my plan is some sort of elaborate ruse to gaslight the squatter. Not by “retaking” the property, but by pretending (and having other people pretend as well) that you never lost posession of it at all! It’s like some wacky sitcom.

          • ResNullum says:

            If they’re leaving the windows open, then there’s also the more convenient option of loosing a few opossums in the home. Cleaning up their mess might be quicker.

  2. Snarkapus says:

    I’d be in jail because I’d evict them at gunpoint, just like the squatters last year in COL.