Lawsuits are beginning to emerge in Los Angeles county as city officials crack down on unlawful short-term rental properties.
Several California communities have recently passed legislation aimed at managing the short-term rental market, particularly as offered by sites such as AirBnB. Anaheim has banned short-term rentals altogether. Many landlords have continued to operate unlawfully, believing laws regarding proper registration, rent control protections, and just cause evictions, would be impossible for the city to police. But Los Angeles is sending a message to landlords who try to skirt short-term rental laws for some quick cash.
The Ellis Act protects tenants when landlords want to get out of the rental business. Landlords can legally evict tenants if they are taking the rental unit off the market or if they are demolishing the property to build more apartments. Among other things, the law mandates that landlords pay relocation expenses for evicted tenants and inform them if the units would be rented again in five years or less.
City Attorney Miek Feuer announced that he is filing criminal charges against the owners of one formerly rent-controlled building in the Fairfax District. Prosecutors allege the property owners booted the tenants without giving them the opportunity to re-rent the units before they were put back on the market. The tenants found their former residences listed on AirBnB and HomeAway. Feuer also filed civil charges against three other LA landlords, two in Venice and one in Hollywood.
Santa Monica just convicted a short-term vacation rental operator for the first time. Scott Shatford pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of operating illegally. He operated five short-term rental properties in Santa Monica and wrote a book on how to make six figures being a “reantalpreneur.” He received probation for two years and must pay $3,500 in fines.
Hopefully these cases will convince landlords to be sure to operate within their local law when in comes to short-term rental properties.