Airbnb is once again reacting to a room rental situation that will likely require new legislation to deal with the impact of the globally successful ‘sharing economy’ tech start-up.
Beth Rifkin is a freelance writer in San Francisco who used Airbnb to rent a room beginning in January 2014 in the five-bedroom house of 83-year old Ernest Thayer. Apparently, Rifkin used Airbnb to rent the room repeatedly for one to five days and even negotiated with Thayer and his son for delayed payment on her room as her sporadic income allowed. After 75 days and a dozen or so times behind on her rent, Thayer was told by Airbnb customer service to call the police and accuse her of trespassing on his property.
Thayer called the police on April 6. After the police arrived, Beth Rifkin was notified she had one hour to vacate the house.
Rifkin suffered an immune deficiency infection soon after being evicted and was hospitalized. She claims the stress of eviction weakened her health.
Rifkin has a lawyer and is claiming her 75 consecutive days staying at Ernest Thayer’s house through recurring Airbnb rentals gives her tenant protection under San Francisco’s renter laws.
“When you rent a place for over 30 days, you are considered a tenant under state law and are entitled to proper notice and court action before you can be removed,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you rent by the day each day.”
Dean Preston, Executive Director, Tenants Together
In San Francisco, tenant protections in a single-family home become effective after 32 days of continuous occupancy. Hotel guests gain protection after 30 days.
“This case illustrates the need for common-sense policies for home-sharing and we should start with the basics: tenants deserve to be protected and guests should honor their commitments to their hosts,”
Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas
Rifkin, 46, complained the stress of being evicted and searching for a new place to live exacerbated her medical conditions.
Based on the San Francisco Chronicle story, I tend to feel more empathy with the 83-year old Ernest Thayer as the one who does not need additional stress over this situation.
Welcome to the “taking economy”.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
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