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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 16097
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Not sure how this works.Do I tell you my issue here?

Customer Question

Hi. Not sure how this works.Do I tell you my issue here?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. Yes, and what your specific question is...
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Hi there. I recently booked a week sublet for a friend and I through the company airbnb, in Los Angeles. I checked in last Friday and was booked until the 30th. On Sunday I complained, through email as she is out of the country apparently and we never met, to my host about some issues I had, mainly with cleanliness. We exchanged a couple emails about it, and that was it. The next day, I received an email and a voicemail from an employee at airbnb, that said my reservation was being cancelled and that I had to leave. This was mind blowing, I didn't understand. I got on the phone with airbnb and the rep told me that the boyfriend of the host told him about issues I had with cleanliness,and wanted me to leave. I told airbnb that I didn't want to leave, that everything was taken care of and he said that it didn't matter. I had "no rights" and the host can do this. Well around and around for hours with phone calls and emails, and I told them I would leave in the morning and that wasn't good enough. Host wanted me out that evening. I can't tell you what I had to go through between my schedule and my friends schedule to make that work. Airbnb paid for a motel for us that night, and yesterday I was back on the phone with them for about 45 minutes going over the situation and they refunded me the amount, but I let them know I was going to look into my legal rights, and take this further. I contacted my city councilman and my senators office about this so far. This goes beyond an inconvenience; to know I can be "thrown out" with no recourse, no voice, is absolutely incredible.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
No doubt about it. Please give me a few minutes to review the Airbnb policies...
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thanks. I also want to let you know, that during this fiasco, I received a text from the woman who let me in to the apartment, and she said that she was so sorry to hear that the manager of the building was having me kicked out. This just added more surprise. This wasn't clear, no matter how I tried to get an answer, but I met the manager when I had to go to his unit to pay for laundry, and he did not know I was subletting. The couple whose apartment I was in, were renters, not owners, and they were doing this rental without permission. So I may have been caught in a crossfire! Again, just horrible experience.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Understood. Can you tell me if you suffered any financial loss as a result of this situation? That is, were you forced to get another property, etc... at a higher cost?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Absolutely. We are both staying at an Inn in Calabasas right now that is costing 86 a night. We booked it for last night and tonight, but we have no place set for the rest of the week, so we are going to book this for a third night if available. Then more moving around. The apartment was 55 a night, so of course, this is costing a lot more for us. And we are in a small room, with one bed, and my friend and I are not a couple. He is working in a neighborhood that takes about twice as long to get to from here, so gas... And this is taking up so much of my time; time that I am supposed to be looking for work!
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I totally want to sue for this. But laws, rules, need to be changed. This can't be allowed to happen again.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
I understand. The main issue, however, is that Airbnb is governed by the terms and conditions of the site. These are not "rentals" in the traditional sense, in that you're not covered by state lease law (unless you've already stayed more than 30 days). Anything less is a short term (transient) rental and is governed more like hotel law (in which the owner may remove you at any time for pretty much any reason). And the Airbnb terms are just as strict. That is, IF the terms and conditions of Airbnb gave you more rights, then you could sue under contract. But as it stands, they allow hosts to set their own cancellation policies, and the host can cancel at any time (unless the host chooses a more restrictive policy). In short, it's unlikely that you would have any case unless you could prove by their express or implied words that they were giving you a right to the property for a specific period of time and disclaiming their right to remove you. The only other way that you'd potentially have a case would be if you had already stayed for at least 30 days. As they had the right to do this (even though it DID cause you economic damages) you wouldn't have a case. You'd only have a case if they didn't. So while you could sue (anyone can sue anyone for anything, at any time), you wouldn't win if they chose to fight it (rather than settle or not show up to court at all). I agree that they should change their terms of service, as this is completely unethical and immoral. But unfortunately it's not illegal, and therefore it's not actionable in a lawsuit. I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is the law. I hope that clears things up anyway. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Is there an exception to this, knowing that the renters were doing this illegally, and it was the manager that had me leave because of this illegal rental, that I had no idea I was renting. I mean there must be something that can be done, because of this exception.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
They did break the law in regards ***** ***** contract. And I rented not knowing this, obviously.
I appreciate your answer, but I am not going to believe that I have no recourse, because of THEIR ILLEGAL activity.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Generally speaking you could have a case based upon "intentional misrepresentation" if you could prove that the host knew at the time of renting out to you that it was illegal, represented that it was legal, and that you specifically relied upon that. But the main problem with such a case is that the host has the ability to cancel under the contract anyway, so any damages that you'd have but-for the misrepresentation would not be available. That is, you do have damages, but it's not because the rental was illegal, but rather because they cancelled the rental (which they were within their contractual rights to do). It's sort of a "trump card" that they have, in that they have this other out.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
And technically they didn't break the law. That is, there's no law that says they can't do this. They have a contract that says they can't do this. It's a fine distinction, but the point is that the government is not the one that's enforcing the matter. So it's not an "illegal" rent but an "unauthorized" one, and to do so would be breaching a contract, not breaking a law.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Remember, they are not the owners. Did not do this legally. So the "owner" was never involved, and they did misrepresent to airbnb, other wise they wouldn't be allowed to rent.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Okay, I just read your last response. It still shows misrepresentation.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
But it was the original tenants though, right? That is, they otherwise have a right to stay in the property themselves under a lease? If that's the case, then they didn't break any law. If they never had any right of possession in the first place it would be criminal fraud (like if you were to just represent that you have the right to possess the White House (for example) but don't, and someone relies upon that, that's criminal fraud, and that IS illegal). If they're the tenants, even if they don't own the property, they're not breaking any law. It's a contractual matter.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'm not sure how the lease jargon is used, but they apparently are not the owners, they broke their lease terms, and KNEW they were misrepresenting. So, that means they lied to airbnb right? I mean airbnb never talked to me about this being the management companies doing. They just made it sound that the boyfriend was upset at my complaint. If airbnb knew they were listing a rental, that was not approved by the building owner... See where I am going here? So airbnb is being lied to, or they are lying to me?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
It's possible that either is the case. But in any situation, if they had a lease, they had the right to possess. And as the hosts they were not doing anything illegal (even if it was a breach of contract between them and the landlord / management). And like I said, in any event, they had the right as the hosts to cancel, for whatever reason. So even in an intentional misrepresentation situation, they had that right and by exercising that right they prevented damages from occurring due to the misrepresentation but rather due to the cancelling.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Don't understand the "they had that right and by exercising that right they prevented damages from occurring due to the misrepresentation but rather due to the cancelling.". Let's forget the hosts for now. What about airbnb? Are they allowed to list rentals knowing that they are renting units that aren't owned by the hosts, and that those are being done in "secret", without permission? Is that legal. Mind you the two airbnb case managers haven't touched this, but have been super apologetic, still following up with emails to me after my refund, to make sure I am "okay". Just woke up to one this morning. It's as if they know something is fishy, but of course they are a huge company, that has been having problems, as I am learning, with complaints, and law suits...
I know I can change things and have a case, whether for a dollar or not even a penny. This is how laws come about, rights come about, yes?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Again, it's not illegal if it's a contractual issue, and they can do this. It's still unethical, immoral, and wrong, but not illegal. Basically if someone is willing to breach their contract and list the apartment, Airbnb isn't going to stop them. If enough people get upset about it and are willing to seek that the laws change, then yes, this is how laws change.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
So, just to be clear; Airbnb is legally allowed to list rentals, that do not have owners permission, by people that are knowingly breaking their lease terms, without disclosing that to renters, keeping us in the dark that this is not allowed? And therefore, if found out by actual owners of the properties, we can be thrown out? Airbnb can know all of these truths, and can just go ahead and work with these people anyway? Keeping all of these facts secret? That's all legal?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Yes to all your questions. Now as a practical matter it's not clear that Airbnb actually knew of all these things, but even assuming that they did, that would still be legal. Again, no law was broken. It's only illegal if a law is broken. A contract being breached is not the same thing as a law being broken, and a broken contract is not illegal.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
My apologies, but I have a meeting that I have to go to in about 5 minutes. Did you have any other quick questions?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
(I wasn't expecting this question to go on for 1 hour and 45 minutes when I first responded...)
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Now I want to make it clear that I have no love for Airbnb. I've never used them, and after hearing your experiences and seen the terms and conditions of the site, I don't plan on using them. My point is that there's a big difference between justice and the law, and things that should not be legal often are. Rarely the justice and the law intersect, although they should more often. I know that's not what you wanted to hear, but unfortunately that IS the law. If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I didn't know there was a time limit here. My first time using this. So, I just want to know if you know the exact lawmakers that I have to get in touch with about making changes. If you have to run, please hand this final question over, and of course I will give you the rating
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
I'm back from my meeting. There are no "exact" lawmakers. Any lawmaker can present a bill that could be voted on.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time (~1 HOUR 45 MINUTES) and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 11 months ago.
Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?