Court OKs eviction after squatters refuse to leave North Carolina Airbnb, post no trespassing sign

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Friday, June 14, 2024
7 On Your Side Investigates: NC Airbnb squatter case renews concerns over homeowner rights
Dan Krauth has more on the investigation into squatters and homeowner rights.

DURHAM, N.C. -- A court magistrate has ordered squatters at a Durham, North Carolina Airbnb to leave. But it's not over yet - they have over a week to appeal the decision.

The Airbnb host, Farzana Rahman, had to take the guests to court to try and get them out.

"I want them out. I don't know if they have vandalized the place or not, no idea. We will only find out when they leave," she said.

Thursday, a Durham County magistrate heard Rahman's case for a summary ejectment. The Airbnb guests did not show up in court. The magistrate did grant Rahman a summary ejectment, but that doesn't mean the guests will be evicted right away. They still have 10 days to appeal.

"Good that I was granted the eviction, but the fact that I have to wait 10 more days to get them out is a little frustrating," Rahman said.

Earlier this month, Rahman reached out to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson with our sister station, ABC11 in Raleigh when her Airbnb guests did not check out of her rental on May 24.

The reservation details show the guests booked a stay at Rahman's rental starting Oct. 25. The guests paid through Airbnb monthly and were scheduled to checkout May 24 the following year.

When Rahman's cleaning lady went to clean the rental property, she found a shocking discovery.

"They answered the door and they said, 'No, we haven't moved out.' She said, 'Should I come tomorrow?' And they said, 'No, don't come back,'" Rahman said.

After the May 24 deadline came and went, Rahman called the police. In a video Rahman recorded, you can hear a person staying at the rental tell police they will leave. The man inside the rental said: "I assure you we will be gone in the morning. If they can just give us until the morning, that's all I'm asking for, so we can get our stuff and we can go."

The next morning, the guests weren't gone. Instead, they put up a handwritten "no trespassing" sign on the front door.

A months-long Airbnb rental has become a nightmare for the host, because the renters refuse to leave.

"We will vacate the property when you file the proper paperwork with the civil magistrate for an eviction, for we are legal residents of this home," the sign read.

Wilson tried to talk to the Airbnb guests, but they did not answer the door or return her calls. Wilson eventually got an email from them stating they were the tenant and had all communications records and receipts.

The email said they only asked that the homeowner communicated with them to give them keys. They claim they were overcharged, had no cleaning and messaged Rahman more than 100 times without receiving a response. They also claimed their checkout date was June 24 not May 24.

Rahman said none of that is true.

"Nothing that they have said they've done, so I have no grounds to believe they will leave," she said.

Rahman said before ABC11's investigation, Airbnb was not offering any help. But following ABC11's involvement, Rahman shared with Wilson new messages from Airbnb.

The company stated it was working with the AirCover team regarding damages, additional cleaning and payment for the additional nights the guests stayed past their checkout date.

Rahman reiterated that none of this happened from Airbnb until ABC11 got involved. After ABC11 contacted Airbnb several times over the past couple days, the company finally provided the station with a statement Thursday afternoon.

"Issues like this are very rare on Airbnb and our team is continuing to work with our host to provide support," the statement read.

As for Rahman, she must wait until June 25 to see if the guests file an appeal with the court. If they don't, she can file a writ of possession to have authorities remove the Airbnb guests from her property.

But again, the guests have texted Wilson that they will be out by June 24. They also claimed they would email Wilson proof of their issues and the agreement they have to stay at the property, but they have not done that.