Evicting renter from a vacation rental property

306 Replies

@Cory T.   I would have your lawyer contact AirBnB and tell them they will be held liable for any damages if why accept payment or do anything that delays your eviction process.  If hey accept a payment and delay your filing for some period they should be on the hook for rent.

@Cory T.  

I have read through this whole thread and I feel awful for you. I hope to read soon that you are free of this squatter and this mess.

@Cory T.   T. like everyone said, I have lots of sympathy for you for having to go thru this awful situation. A few things I can think of that might be of help:

1. On Airbnb site, there are Groups and one of them that is very active and closely related to Airbnb is the SFHomeSharers. Are you a member of that group? If you are not, join now. And if you are, put all this info you put in there on that site. You will have lots of responses and I"m sure Airbnb monitors that group since it is on their very site.

2. I hate to say this, but Carolyn Said of SF Chronicle is the one who gets very excited over any bad publicity on Airbnb. So if you email her, I think you'll get her attention right away. If you just search her name, I"m sure you'll find her email address.

I just got an inquiry to stay for 6 months and now I cringe to think what could happen if I don't screen extremely well. Your experience has surely taught us lots of lesson. I just told the person I need paystub, employer's letter and credit report (she's from the UK but has been here for 2 years).

Keep us posted and if there is anything I could help with, please let me know. That could have easily been me.

California hosts/landlords who have vacation rentals might want to look at the actual Civil Code (http://www.experteviction.net/civil-code-1940) in addition to the Dept. of Consumer Affairs booklet linked above.  The code is a little more detailed. Unless you are running a hotel/motel facility with services (maid service, food establishment, central phone), a 30-day stay in a typical vacation rental appears to create a tenancy. This means that conflicts involving payment and vacating the unit become a civil matter, requiring a court ordered eviction. So if someone stays in your unit beyond 30 days and doesn't leave and doesn't pay, you can't just call the police. I wonder if airbnb is disclosing this 30-day issue to hosts when they sign up.  IMO, with so much rental scamming/squatting going on, at the very least they should be making it clear that renting your unit for more than 30 days puts you at risk becoming a landlord with a tenant if a conflict arises.  I'd like to see what guarantee they come up with for that issue. :)

Additionally, you can't go around it by ending the tenancy at 29 days and then reregistering the guest.  The lawmakers already thought of that work-around and wrote law to prevent it.

This reminds me of the movie "pacific heights". I would be very careful here. Get an attorney to handle this. Don't try any self help. And definitely do NOT shut off utilities.

The 3 day notice might have to be re-issued, but have your attorney do everything. CA has too many tenant friendly laws so don't attempt to do this yourself.

Hopefully you are not in a rent controlled jurisdiction.

Originally posted by @Joanna L.:

@Cory T.   T. like everyone said, I have lots of sympathy for you for having to go thru this awful situation. A few things I can think of that might be of help:

1. On Airbnb site, there are Groups and one of them that is very active and closely related to Airbnb is the SFHomeSharers. Are you a member of that group? If you are not, join now. And if you are, put all this info you put in there on that site. You will have lots of responses and I"m sure Airbnb monitors that group since it is on their very site.

2. I hate to say this, but Carolyn Said of SF Chronicle is the one who gets very excited over any bad publicity on Airbnb. So if you email her, I think you'll get her attention right away. If you just search her name, I"m sure you'll find her email address.

I just got an inquiry to stay for 6 months and now I cringe to think what could happen if I don't screen extremely well. Your experience has surely taught us lots of lesson. I just told the person I need paystub, employer's letter and credit report (she's from the UK but has been here for 2 years).

Keep us posted and if there is anything I could help with, please let me know. That could have easily been me.

Too funny.  I too thought about contracting Carolyn Said. I have shared info and resources on foreclosure with her in the past. It looks like she's transitioned to business reporting on what the Chronicle calls the sharing economy and maker movement.  Regardless, for sure she knows someone who wants this story.

Originally posted by @Cory T.:

@k. 

Kristine Marie Poe Yes, indeed it was a "customer service payout",,,see below:

Jul 10 08:30:

Hi Cory,

I can absolutely confirm that our payments division within our customer experience team paid you $--- USD on July 8th, 2014 to your default ---  payout method ending in ---.

The reasoning behind which, was not only for customer service support due to the inconveniences you're experiencing with M----- and his relative, but because his second reservation payment, which was supposed to be charged from his payment method on June 26th, 2014, did not go through.

To clarify, on long term reservations lasting longer than 30 days, we spread the reservation payment and payouts up each month. At the 30 day mark of M-----'s reservation his card was set to be charged, but for whatever reason, whether intentional by him or not, his payment did not go through and his card could not be charged. Due to this, we wanted to make sure you still received money for hosting, so we paid you from our account while we reached out to M-----for re-payment to us.

I hope the above explanation helps but if you need further clarification please let me know!

Kind regards,

-------

 Talk to your attorney but you might want to instruct airbnb to stop attempting to charge the card, if they still are.  Having gone through a couple evictions myself I was told not to accept ANY payment as it might require the whole eviction process to be restarted.  I'm thinking if squatter's card was charged in the middle of the eviction and by some miracle payment was not denied squatter could claim you (airbnb) accepted payment.  Just a thought.

Originally posted by @Michaela G.:

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

 Thank you Michaela for all of your great PR suggestions/contacts/stories. Much appreciated!!

@Andy Argonaut  Thanks for posting...the power shut off was my plan to keep unit vacant during summer before I knew I had a squatter on my hands...I wouldn't do that with someone in the unit...I've been updated on laws, etc. Thanks.

Cory, I would double and triple check that airbnb won't accept ANY payments from the squatter. All it takes is one mistake, and you'll probably need to restart the eviction process. And given how airbnb sounds clueless, I'd be worried some dope there will take a payment w/o knowing what's at stake. 

I'm really surprised airbnb is not more aware of how tenancies can wreck havoc for their hosts. They really need to be on top of this, and at a minimum not interfere with your legal proceedings. 

Originally posted by @Amit M.:

Cory, I would double and triple check that airbnb won't accept ANY payments from the squatter. All it takes is one mistake, and you'll probably need to restart the eviction process. And given how airbnb sounds clueless, I'd be worried some dope there will take a payment w/o knowing what's at stake. 

I'm really surprised airbnb is not more aware of how tenancies can wreck havoc for their hosts. They really need to be on top of this, and at a minimum not interfere with your legal proceedings. 

This thread is on it's way to becoming a complete how-to guide for squatting in vacation rentals in California.  The OP's squatter is probably trying to process some kind of payment right this very minute. Unless airbnb is totally on top of what is a very automated system, the OP's squatter can easily find a way to get a payment accepted.

@k. 

Kristine Marie Poe Wow, scary thought. I instructed airbnb NOT to attempt collecting any payment from the squatter:

Jul 14 10:37:

Hi Cory,
My name is ------ and I am ------'s manager. He is currently on his weekend, returning tomorrow. I've been working with him closely on this case and want to confirm the guest's account has been quarantined and we will not be accepting further payment from him.

------ will be in touch with you tomorrow morning; however, feel free to reply to this email if there is anything I can assist you with today. I will be in and out of meetings and will check back mid-afternoon to see if there is anything I can do to help.

You are part of our Airbnb family and we want to support you as best we can through this situation.

Talk soon,

------
www.airbnb.com/help

@k. 

Kristine Marie Poe Yes, I was delayed on this update as I received confirmation of just this morning. The 3-day notice posted last Friday July 11th, 9:30am, advised to wait until July,16th Wednesday morning to file UD. 

I've received traction from a few reporters/writers...I may give exclusivity to one reporter in particular in order to obtain coverage with the hope of promoting consumer awareness around this issue. 

I also got an okay to start blogging, (no names though)...I started with initial reservation/initial text communication on May 25th, and will update piece by piece to more present status of things:
www.myairbnbsquatter.com

It sounds like AirBnb is working with you now, correct?  

They've:

- paid you for the lost rent that the tenant did not pay

- 'Quarantined' the account, disallowing any payments from the tenant

- Opened lines of communication with you

What else are you trying to get from them?  Re-imbursement for the legal fees, damages and rent lost beyond the 8th?  

Cheers,

Originally posted by @Andrew Whicker:

It sounds like AirBnb is working with you now, correct?  

They've:

- paid you for the lost rent that the tenant did not pay

- 'Quarantined' the account, disallowing any payments from the tenant

- Opened lines of communication with you

What else are you trying to get from them?  Re-imbursement for the legal fees and rent lost beyond the 8th?  

Cheers,

Remember, Cory didn't hear from airbnb until after the negative twitter blast. She tried reaching someone for 8 days with no help for a serious situation. They're helping now because it's in their best interest, PR-wise.

I think airbnb needs to cop to the fact that they are 1) collecting guest fees for 30+day stays for only 30 days at a time, hence no guarantee to the host of payment in full, and 2) a 30 day stay in a typical vacation rental in CA creates a tenancy situation.  They should be required to disclose this issue to CA hosts.  Then they can get to work on their $1M guarantee that will cover lost rents, evictions and legal representation when the guest doesn't pay and/or leave.  Is that too much to ask?  :)

Even if all the publicity does is make vacation rental hosts aware of the issue, that's a service  Cory is paying for it, and the rest of us are learning about the issue for free.

It wasn't a loaded question.

I don't know what the goal of further media attention is.  Those goals should be clearly stated so that Airbnb can respond effectively.  

No one has filed an insurance claim yet (as I understand).  We don't know if Airbnb will reject any of those claims.  

It certainly would be great if AirBnb gave warning about the 30 day tenancy issue, but I think in the end it is the duty of the landlord (and their team) to know the local laws.  Hopefully, AirBnb will post such a warning.  That would be good customer service. 

Originally posted by @Andrew Whicker:

It wasn't a loaded question.

I don't know what the goal of further media attention is.  Those goals should be clearly stated so that Airbnb can respond effectively.  

No one has filed an insurance claim yet (as I understand).  We don't know if Airbnb will reject any of those claims.  

It certainly would be great if AirBnb gave warning about the 30 day tenancy issue, but I think in the end it is the duty of the landlord (and their team) to know the local laws.  Hopefully, AirBnb will post such a warning.  That would be good customer service. 

There will be no insurance claim to file.  Airbnb's current $1M guarantee is for property damage and limited theft only.  They don't offer insurance or guarantees for this kind of thing.  So if Cory is going to get any reimbursements for lost rent or legal fees or anything else, airbnb will have to offer a "customer satisfaction" payment, a settlement or get sued.

Agreed that good customer service will have airbnb posting disclosures and warnings for  CA hosts.  And how to reach a real live person in less than 8 days if there is an emergency.