Airbnb and landlord sued by former Fairfax District tenants

Carlos Granda Image
Friday, December 18, 2015
Airbnb and landlord sued by former Fairfax District tenants
Former tenants of an apartment complex on Genesee Avenue in the Fairfax District announced they are suing Airbnb and their former landlord on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015.

FAIRFAX DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Former tenants in the Fairfax District are filing a lawsuit after they said their rent-controlled apartments turned up on Airbnb.

Those tenants, Nina Giovannitti and Carrie Kirshman, said they were forced out of their apartments on Genesee Avenue by their landlord.

"We lived here, we were great tenants and he kicked us out illegally. And it's illegal for him to have continued to rent it," Giovannitti said.

"I never envisioned leaving. I was really happy living here," Kirshman said.

Giovannitti and Kirshman claimed the building owners kicked out all the tenants from their rent controlled apartments back in 2014 and then re-rented out the units through Airbnb at much higher rates.

"The new Airbnb renters come for one or two nights. They're only interested in throwing a party and disturbing the neighborhood," attorney Randy Renick said.

The former tenants filed a lawsuit against the building owners and Airbnb.

Tenant groups said conversions to short-term rentals are happening across California and resulting in less affordable housing.

"We have a building boom creating mostly expensive new housing while at the same time removing existing affordable and rent controlled units. Short term rentals like these are threatening to remove even more," Los Angeles City Council member Paul Koretz said.

The attorney who represents the tenants said under state and local law, a landlord can evict someone if they take the unit off the market for five years.

He said in this case, the units were on the market again in six weeks.

"The city of Los Angeles has a law to prevent these wrongful evictions, the rent stabilization ordinance, but landlords can't resist the profits promised them by Airbnb," Renick said.

Airbnb issued this statement, "While we don't comment on pending litigation, we strongly oppose real estate speculators who illegally evict tenants and abuse platforms like ours in search of a quick buck. We continue to work with policymakers to strengthen rules that protect tenants and communities."

ABC7 left messages and emailed the building's owner, but we have not yet heard back.

If the tenants win the case, they would be entitled all the extra money they paid to rent more expensive apartments.