SAN FRANCISCO—CBS News just reported that a “guest” in a San Francisco apartment, who was placed there by Air BnB has refused to leave the apartment and, it may take the tenant months and probably thousands of dollars to evict the squatter. Meanwhile the New York courts have determined that a landlord cannot use a law enacted last year to prevent apartments from being turned into hotel rooms, thereby enabling the existing tenant to utilize  the services of Air BnB to make a profit on the apartment they rent. In New York there is also talk among members of the City Council about enacting legislation to help renters defray the high living cost by taking in paying “guests.” However, little is being considered of the unintended consequences to both landlords and other residents in a building from tenants using services such as Air BnB.

First, there is the overriding security risk posed to both the tenant-host and the other residents from a stranger showing up with a suitcase and moving into a building for a night, a week or even longer. However, this risk also extends to the landlord if this “guest” turns out to be a criminal who robs the host or any of the other residents or causes bodily harm to any of the residents. In that event, the building tenants can and in many cases will sue the landlord, claiming that the ownership failed to maintain a safe living environment. The issue that is lost in attempts to protect a tenant’s right to profit on their rented apartment is that the “guest” is in fact a transient with little concern for the quiet enjoyment of the other residents of the building or maintaining the quality of life or the appearance of the host’s home or the building.  How then can the landlord and the other tenants protect themselves from the stranger in their midst?

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