Six people who found themselves evicted from an apartment building in July are fighting back by filing a lawsuit against their landlord and an unusual co-defendant: Airbnb. They claim the eviction was illegal and that they caught the landlord posting their units on the short-term rental site for inflated prices after the city was told they would be taken off the market entirely.
The tenants’ lawsuit targets Airbnb along with the landlord because, they claim, the site is “equally liable with owner defendants as their partners in a joint venture,” the Los Angeles Business Journal reports. Essentially, they’re contending that because Airbnb and the landlord were, in a sense, in business together, Airbnb is partially to blame for the illegal evictions.
It’s not the first time that Airbnb has been mentioned in conversations about illegal evictions in L.A. Other tenants’ rights groups have criticized the site for making it so alluring for building owners to flip rentals, even rent controlled ones, to pseudo-hotel operations. That concern has been a big factor behind some of the local ordinances that have recently gone into place to limit how building owners can make spaces available for visitors.
Airbnb, for their part, is trying to stay out of it. They claim they just run a platform and don’t do anything to encourage property owners to boot long-term tenants in favor of short-term stays. A company spokesman told the Business Journal that they have “long opposed landlords who remove housing from the market.”
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