Evicting renter from a vacation rental property

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@Chris Masons Thanks for the supportive words, much appreciated. I feel he is a professional scammer as well. Its one thing to deal with renter who has lost their job, fallen on hard times, etc., and a total different category of person who uses scammy manipulation, lies and intimidation. These guys are disgusting. Fingers crossed for a swift-ish resolution. 

You should go after AirBnB to recovery your money you are out. Here in Dallas if a tenant sends a text message that in a threatening way, the police will go with you to the unit, and then the landlord will file a police report and move forward with eviction and the judges here in Dallas's county waste no time in putting the so call professional tenant in the street. I think California is a tenant friendly state.


Joe Gore

I'm sorry to hear this @Cory T.  , and hope it works itself out quickly for you. My husband and I are renting a vacation condo in FL and are very curious about what creates residency. We own long term rentals in FL but haven't gotten into vacation properties nor do we know the vacation residency laws. We may just ask the owner about this, he also uses AirBnB. We'd love to live here permanently ;)

The text your renter sent you is almost comical. He's probably using a template he's used before, as he sounds nuts, but well versed in this kind of thing.

Seriously consider the recommendation of @Michaela G.  

California has laws that highly favor the tenant, and this clearly isn't this guy's first rodeo.

The biggest critics of services like AirBnB, Uber, etc, are that they are unsafe in some way. This falls into that category. My guess is that taking this story to the press will greatly reduce your hold time when calling AirBnB.

@Joe Gore I'm not sure what a skip trace is...like a background check? 

RE: airbnb recovery...I'm just trying to get them on the phone at this point, but yes, I'll look into recovery from them for any damages. Unfortunately the police are unable to help until an eviction is served (I am still info gathering, and would love to find a loop hole). California is pretty darned lax comparted to other states unfortunately.

@Bob Bowling  Deposit is minor...just $200.

Aly NA In Calif, 30 day+ stay apparently creates residency, even when booked through an obvious temporary lodging site such as airbnb. Thanks for the comment about the "comical template" it helps me take a step back and feel a bit of stress subside. ;-) I have no clue about FL laws, but def research beforehand...FL has got to be more logical than the CA laws.

Originally posted by @Cory T.:

I will work with an local attorney on this one...however the situation is not pretty. Because this "vacation" renter has been there more than 30 days, we have to treat it like a regular rental. 

I was advised that the only way to proceed is with an unlawful detainer, and advised to proceed immediately. Tomorrow the plan is to have all notices served: 3-day notice to pay or quit, Notice to quit, and 60-day notice to quit. Attorney says leave all utilities as is. Tenants have 5 days to respond. If no response, its an automatic default (attorney reports this is the case 90% of the time). If they do respond, we go to court within 20 days. Fun stuff.

@joe 

@Joe Gore Thanks for the suggestion.

@wayne 

@Wayne Brooks  undefined Thanks for your support. Where are those biker buddies when you need them? :-)

@Mike M.  Hi Mike, no I have not done anything illegal, or discriminatory. I think they just like throwing around those types of words.

@Mikael S.  Unfortunately, Airbnb is not providing support.

I waited to respond when I first read your post as I didn't want to be the one to tell you that you were probably  looking at unlawful detainer action.  The I'm glad to hear you have a lawyer on it.  However, I'm confused by some of his actions.  Why is he serving a 60 termination notice instead of 30 days?  In CA, the tenant only gets 30 days unless they have been there more than 1 year.  Is there something in the airbnb agreement that makes the lawyer think it should be 60 days?  I just did one a few months ago and we did a 3 day quit or pay and a 30 day termination. The tenant had been there 9 months.

Given the tone and pseudo-legal language your tenant is using, I'd be prepared for your tenant to either pay and/or answer the complaint.  It's very simple for them to go to the courts and fill out the form and pay the $180 filing fee (or whatever it is).  This means the case gets put on the court calendar which gives them that much more time. I've had tenants with very little education pull this off, so be prepared.  Some will even show up in court.  

What does your attorney say about giving notice for an inspection? It's your property and you can give reasonable notice and enter for an inspection or showing or appraisal or whatever you want.  It's not required that the tenant agree to the inspection time.  I'm not saying you should do it yourself, but that someone on your team should give reasonable notice to enter and make sure nothing illegal is going on in the unit.  This will sometimes scare away a tenant that is using the unit for illegal activities. But it can also send them into a counter lawsuit claiming harassment. 

Hang in there.  They won't be there forever! Please keep us posted. 

Do a search at San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate.com , who like to write stories about airbnb (who are based in SF). Contact the reporter who wrote those stories

Originally posted by @Cory T.:

@Richard C.   Good advice. Hindsight is 20/20!

 So sorry you had to go through this experience but it's definitely a lesson to all of us.  Thanks for sharing/warning us all!

Sorry to hear that this is happening to you, Cory! You've done the wise thing to let everything go through your lawyer. I agree with @Marcia Maynard - get access to the place as soon as state law allows (providing proper notice, of course.) Hopefully airbnb's "Host Guarantee" will compensate for any damages. 

I'm curious how they handle the holdover rent; my guess is that they'll try to wash their hands and leave it to you to pursue from the guest/tenant. A little bad PR might help move things in your favor, particularly as they seem to be trying to spiff up their image lately.

Originally posted by @Cory T.:

 And I have been advised not to touch ultiliies. Too bad they are blasting the AC with 110 desert heat, and leaving windows and sliding glass door open all day. 

 I would document this NOW!  Take daily electric readings and video the open windows.  Your attorney should be able to go to court immediately to stop this waste (possibly more).  Then if they don't comply with a court order they'll have a pissed off Judge.  See who loves tenants then.

Oh my, so sorry that this happened to you. I really hope things are working out and the lawyer can get this scammer out of you condo very soon. 

Did you the 'guest' have any review on his page? Was he new to Airbnb? I'm also renting thru Airbnb and knock on wood, so far all the airbnb guests are pretty good, and lots are amazing. I'm very careful now with those staying longer than 30 days, but was quite naive before since I didn't know how difficult it could be once you run into this kind of scammer.

Please keep us posted. I do hope you'll be in much better situation soon.

@Cory T.  , I'm glad I could provide a little levity. I've gotten really stressed at times when tenants have sent me email or texts that were so off the wall I had to wonder if I was the crazy one. And my husband and I had a fairly new tenant do that recently. Other landlord friends advised us to just ignore inflammatory messages from tenants, as they are simply trying to get a rise out of you. It's easier sometimes to pass on that advise than follow it, but you're on the right track. As Kristine Marie Poe said, they won't be there forever.

Have you Google'd the squatter's name or checked Facebook? I won't dignify him by calling him a tenant. He may have a documented history of this kind of thing.

@Cory T. I'm wonder did your lawyer explain the process of eviction or do you know the process of the eviction? I mean the timeline of eviction? On Summon unlawful detainer, did your lawyer add anything in there?  I will add more depend on your answer .

Disclaimer: I'm not here to give it out legal.

Sorry to hear about this.  I agree that Airbnb should assist.  I would email them with a link to this post on BiggerPockets and follow up with other media. This would be very bad press for AirBnb.  I have two listings with them and I would be alarmed.

I would sick you lawyer on AirB'nB and looking at the contract too.
Don't forget to track all your expenses because you've got the $1,000,000 Guarantee:

https://www.airbnb.com/guarantee

Seems to me (with no legal training) that any reservation company that allows/creates situations that violate state law (Vacation Rentals vs. Landlord/Tenant) seems to be more liable for these types of situations.

If you go to the press I would suggest local news outlets, as well as tech publications. A good one is arstechnica.com who do alot of technology and investigative type journalism and have discussed airbnb in the past.

Once you get it on to some news site, submit a link to slashdot.org for yet more traffic (with disclaimer that you're involved).

Best of luck! 

Just a quick tidbit and then I'll update more tomorrow.

After two weeks of lame/slow customer service emails from airbnb, today something new happened. My younger sister who is connected in the music industry began tweeting about airbnb's poor customer service, and referencing both my situation as well as their previous bad PR stories. After about 20 minutes of continuous tweets, they contacted my sister via twitter. She continued to tweet for an hour, then I magically received a phone call from an airbnb Supervising Case Manager. This was the first staff member I spoke with who actually knew about CA evictions and the law here (their customer service dept seems to be based in southern Oregon, so the previous manager I spoke with didn't know much, and simply told me to call the police to remove them.)

Long story short--previous posters are right, the only way to get customer service out of airbnb is to publicize the situation. It is sooooo unfortunate that this is the case. But that is how it is with this company. 

The resolution that was proposed to me by the airbnb supervisor--she would contact ( or attempt to contact) the squatter, offer to have airbnb move them into a hotel at no charge for 30 days. Unfortunatly I have not heard back this evening, so I assume the squatter will be ignoring that offer, especially if he knows he can ride it out in my place for longer than 30 days. For shame!

I will continue to update. This has been one very stressful day, however I am so grateful for all of the comments, advise, feedback and support that has come my way on this site. Thank you all for taking the time to share. I really appreciate it. 

@Corey T. I believe it kind of useless to wait airbnb to take care your problem.  I hope your lawyer take an action fast to evict the tenant out because the eviction process it takes 3-6 months. 

@Cory T.  ,

Sorry to hear, and glad you got a lawyer like everyone said. Definitely leverage what you can from AirB&B. They rely heavily upon their reputation to not have "landlords" scammed - or they'll stop getting listings. I would tag them on twitter about a scammer tenant w/ unlawful detainer , then maybe tag some local papers. I believe they're also a BBB bureau member, and there's always yelp. 

Tell them you need their help immediately, and you would not like to, but be forced to go to all of these outlets to prevent a similar tragedy from happening to other unsuspecting AirB&B folks. If this doesn't work, I believe their headquarters is at:

888 Brannan St, SF. Go give 'em hell! @Johnson H.  , you haven't had any scammers on AirB&B have you? Any advice on how to get their attention more quickly?

Good luck Cory!

Originally posted by @Cory T.:

Just a quick tidbit and then I'll update more tomorrow.

After two weeks of lame/slow customer service emails from airbnb, today something new happened. My younger sister who is connected in the music industry began tweeting about airbnb's poor customer service, and referencing both my situation as well as their previous bad PR stories. After about 20 minutes of continuous tweets, they contacted my sister via twitter. She continued to tweet for an hour, then I magically received a phone call from an airbnb Supervising Case Manager. This was the first staff member I spoke with who actually knew about CA evictions and the law here (their customer service dept seems to be based in southern Oregon, so the previous manager I spoke with didn't know much, and simply told me to call the police to remove them.)

Long story short--previous posters are right, the only way to get customer service out of airbnb is to publicize the situation. It is sooooo unfortunate that this is the case. But that is how it is with this company. 

The resolution that was proposed to me by the airbnb supervisor--she would contact ( or attempt to contact) the squatter, offer to have airbnb move them into a hotel at no charge for 30 days. Unfortunatly I have not heard back this evening, so I assume the squatter will be ignoring that offer, especially if he knows he can ride it out in my place for longer than 30 days. For shame!

I will continue to update. This has been one very stressful day, however I am so grateful for all of the comments, advise, feedback and support that has come my way on this site. Thank you all for taking the time to share. I really appreciate it. 

Thanks so much for the update on airbnb customer service and their proposed solution.  I was amused when I read the $1M guarantee posted about earlier, as it has nothing to do with your situation. Their $1M insurance for property damages and/or theft won't help a property owner with the costs associated with an entrenched squatter/tenant.

While I applaud airbnb for proposing something, anything., to vacate your unit, I do hope you'll stay on them to reimburse you for any legal fees and lost rents resulting from a necessary eviction in CA.  (I do not believe your occupant will leave your unit for 30 free days in a hotel. They have a better deal where they are. But we can hope!)  Airbnb can't really continue to promote that property owners are safe from crazy squatter scammer/squatter types unless they have legal teams in every state and who can act swiftly.  Or unless they are willing to pay owners for legal costs incurred for evictions.  I'm a fan of airbnb, btw, having used it to book great accommodations, and my daughter has rented her apt. in Berkeley successfully and profitably dozens of times.

The rental scamming/squatting thing seems more and more prevalent these past few years.  I can't tell if it's because we are hearing about it more.  Or is the freely available info on the internet making it easier for more people to pull it off?