The Market

How to avoid an Airbnb squatter nightmare

By Virginia K. Smith  | July 23, 2014 - 1:05PM

Everyone loves a good Airbnb horror story, and this week brought us a doozy, with news of a San Francisco woman whose guest refused to leave after his initial 30-day stay in her condo. The situation got a whole lot worse when she discovered that, under California law, someone who lives in a place for longer than 30 days effectively becomes a tenant on a month-to-month lease—and to get rid of him, she'd have to go through a formal eviction process.

Terrible, but at least that's just some West Coast legal weirdness, right?

Nope. Dean Roberts, a real estate attorney at Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, tells us that New York State law has similar provisions, and if a guest has been renting in your place for a month or more, you'd need to take them to housing court to evict them. A little city-specific insult to add to injury? "The guest could also level an overcharge complaint at this point if the apartment in question is rent-regulated," says Roberts.

However, the set-up in this story would've been illegal here in the first place: as we've noted before, rentals of under 30 days are illegal in New York unless you're also occupying the apartment at the same time as your guest. 

To keep your temporary guest from becoming a permanent fixture, keep the length of the rental under 30 days, and don't do a short-term rental if your apartment is vacant. Tricky, but still way easier than having to drag a house guest to court.


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