Is This The Weirdest Airbnb Story Yet?

Open Jaw

A pair of Airbnb hosts are currently trying to kick out a nightmare guest who not only rented their SFO apartment by using a false name, but is also refusing to leave by claiming that he now has the right to stay indefinitely.

There’s history here. The renter is a neighbour and a co-owner in the very building in which the apartment resides — and a man with whom the couple has several ongoing arguments.

Michelle Huang and her boyfriend Thomas Payne own 3 units in a 6-unit building near their permanent residence. During the past couple of years, they have rented 2 of those units through Airbnb and FlipKey, despite constant loud protests from neighbour Sandeep Andre Hingorani, who filed an official complaint with the city and has argued that the rentals created noise and parking issues.

Last April, Huang and Payne rented 1 of their units to a man named Jim Tako, who said he was a Pittsburgh-based television correspondent who would be in the city for at least 2 months. Tako’s Airbnb profile picture was of Don Johnson, circa-Miami Vice and did not have any reviews from other hosts or guests, but the couple approved his request to stay at their property.

Just before the end of his rental, Huang and Payne received a letter from an attorney, revealing that “Jim Tako” was actually Hingorani and that, as he had stayed at the property for more than 32 consecutive days, he was eligible for tenant’s rights — and no, he wasn’t leaving anytime soon.

A court case is pending as both sides await the ruling of the city’s Rent Board.

An Airbnb spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Unfortunate situations like this are rare and we are always working to improve. We provide tools so that our hosts can review and research their guests before they accept a reservation. You can read a person’s profile, look for their reviews.”

Apparently this isn’t the 1st case of squatting that has been facilitated through Airbnb and probably won’t be the last. In California for example, after a guest rents a property for 30 days, they are considered to be a tenant and are legally entitled to another 30 days before a lawsuit can be filed against them.

As USAToday puts it: “California-based hosts might want to keep that in mind, and they might want to think twice about renting their homes to Don Johnson.”

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