- Airbnb Rental Determined as Illegal Use of Property.
In the case of Chen vs. Kraft,  243 Cal App Supp. 13, Chen, the landlord, filed an Unlawful Detainer against Kraft who was using his rental to sublet on Airbnb. The property was zoned R-1 and was subject to Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Los Angeles prohibits short term rentals that fall within the R-1 Zone.
The tenant refused to cure the 10 Day Notice of Default and continued to rent the property on Airbnb. The landlord filed an Unlawful Detainer action arguing that the tenant was operating an illegal bed and breakfast or transient housing.
The tenant raised defenses such as the prior tenant was allowed to rent on Airbnb. Therefore, the tenant argued landlord waived the claim. The tenant also argued that the premises did not violate the R-1 Zone.
The landlord prevailed on a Summary Judgment motion and the tenant appealed. The Appellate Court affirmed the Trial Court decision stating that the landlord established all of the elements of an Unlawful Detainer based on the theory of Illegal Purpose. That theory is that the landlord is entitled to evict the tenant when he is using the premises for an unlawful purpose. Since the R-1 Zone prevented short term rentals the tenant’s Airbnb listings and rentals were unlawful and the tenant failed to comply with the 10 Day Notice to Quit. The tenant’s argument that the prior landlord allowed rentals is not dispositive as such approval was an illegal contract. Therefore, it was void and unenforceable.
Comment: When there is a municipal ordinance that limits, taxes, restricts or all together bans short term rentals the landlord can enforce limitations on Airbnb short term rentals in his property. Finally sound decisions are being made that protect owner’s rights and the sanctity of contracts. Often times in landlord/tenant cases, in my opinion, the judges, particularly in Los Angeles County, bend over backwards to protect the tenant at the expense of the landlord.
About the Author
Scott Souders is a real estate attorney who has practiced real estate law in excess of 42 years in Southern California. The Real Estate Law Update cites cases or statutes which are summarized and should not be relied upon without fully reading the cases or statute in the advance sheets and shepardizing the same and consulting with your own attorney.