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A group of 6 tenants are suing their former landlord as well as Airbnb claiming that their evictions were illegal as a result of Los Angeles's rent control laws. LA's rent control law covers buildings built in 1978 and earlier, and, like other rent control laws across the country, it prohibits landlords from evicting tenants unless they have a statutorily permitted reason.
The tenants in this lawsuit were evicted because the landlord claimed that the properties would be removed from the market for redevelopment. However, shortly after their eviction, the units were listed on Airbnb as available for rent. The tenants believe that their evictions were done so the landlord could rent out the units on Airbnb for a higher rate. However, the landlord's attorney has commented that the units are scheduled for demolition this month.
Why Is Airbnb Getting Sued?
Despite the fact that Airbnb appears to be on the tenants' side here, they are being sued. Airbnb is involved in the litigation because the tenants are alleging that it essentially operated a joint venture with the landlord by allowing the landlord to rent the units on their site and take a cut of the money. A similar case filed against another landlord and Airbnb by 5 other evicted tenants in 2015 is slated for trial in June in Los Angeles.
Airbnb issued a statement where it denounced site users who are removing housing from the marketplace. It explained that the site is meant for individuals to generate extra income, and not for landlords to profit. The statement was made generally, and the company refused to officially comment on any of the actual litigation.
Rent Control Laws
In several cities around the country, rent control laws have been imposed that restrict the ability of a landlord to raise the rent, and/or evict tenants. In nearly all jurisdictions, rent control protections are not absolute, and there are exceptions to when a landlord can reclaim a unit from a tenant. However, the exceptions vary from city to city, as does the level of protection offered. For instance, in LA, a landlord can evict a tenant if they plan to remove the unit from the market.