If you have a flat that is a bit too far from your office, and you want to rent it out for extra cash, let this story serve as a warning: Be very careful in choosing your tenants. Alas, you won’t know their true colors until they start living in your place.
A woman leased out her 600-square-foot condominium unit in Palm Springs, California, for a little over a month, but the guy won’t leave and is threatening to sue her. In order to evict him, she now has to hire a lawyer and wait it out for three to six months until the court makes a ruling, according to Business Insider.
It’s “been a nightmare”, condo owner Cory Tschogl tells the news website.
Tschogl has been renting out the flat on vacation rental sites Airbnb and Flipkey, and she’s glad the income has enabled her to pay the higher rents in the San Francisco Bay Area where she lives.
All was right with the world until a man called Maksym reached her through Airbnb and said he wanted to rent her flat for longer than a month. He was on an extended business trip, he told her. Tschogl agreed to let him rent the place for 44 days, from May 25 to July 8, and received an advance payment for 30 days.
On day one, after the guest checked in, he called her and complained about two strange matters. One was the cloudy tap water; the other was that he didn’t like the place because one had yet to enter a gate to get to the condo.
He asked for a full refund. Tschogl thought that she didn’t want to have anything more to do with the guy, so she agreed to a refund.
When she contacted Airbnb, the company told her that since the guest had stayed in the condo for two days, she was entitled to keep a part of the payment corresponding to his length of stay.
But Maksym stayed. “It became a confusing situation. Both I and Airbnb told the guest to leave, but he would not,” says Tschogl.
Since angry texts apparently didn’t work with the guest, Tschogl decided to let him stay for the duration of his reservation.
But on June 25, when payment for the last part of his reservation was due, Airbnb couldn’t collect the money. Again, Tschogl was forced to contact the guest and warn him to pay or leave. But he stayed.
On the last day of his reservation, Tschogl sent him a text message, warning him that if he didn’t vacate the property, she would have the utilities shut off.
Apparently anticipating Tschogl’s move, Maksym issued his own threat. Says Tschogl: “It almost sounded like blackmail. He threatened to sue me, saying his brother was there and got an ulcer due to the tap water. He said he was legally occupying my domicile and he has rights.”
It appears that the guest had some point. After consulting a lawyer, Tschogl learned that in California, a person who rents a property for at least 30 days is considered a tenant on a month-to-month lease.
To get the tenant out, she had to go through the whole eviction process, which could take three to six months and US$3,000 to U$5,000 in legal fees. She couldn’t just ask the police to throw out the guy.
“Thousands of vacation rental owners are vulnerable, and they don’t know it,” Tschogl tells Business Insider. “The public needs to know, lawmakers need to know, and sites like Airbnb need to know and improve upon their policies, procedures and protections.”
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