Airbnb Isn't Much Help When Your Guests Turn Into Squatters

Everyone is saving a buck with Airbnb, from New York sex workers turning apartments into brothels to "XXX Freak Fest" promoters locking down their next venue. Now a pair of Texas brothers have found a new exploit: squatting on vacation rentals.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the "horror story" began when the brothers rented a Palm Springs condo for 44 days. But after 30 days, they stopped paying the $450-per-week rent to the condo's owner, Cory Tschogl. Now they're refusing to leave the unit and the startup hotelier is sticking her with the legal bill.

Tschogl said she begged Airbnb for help through numerous e-mails and phone calls without getting much assistance.

Now she's hired a lawyer, who will cost several thousand dollars and take three to six months to evict the tenant, who now has renters' protections under California law because he has occupied the unit over 30 days.

Tschogl told the Chronicle that Airbnb was "almost absent" throughout the ordeal, saying "There was no phone number or direct contact e-mail. I got e-mail responses only every 24 to 48 hours." Only when Tschogl's sister, who also happens to be a music executive, began tweeting at the company did Airbnb respond earnestly.

Even with Airbnb on the case, the brothers are not leaving. Airbnb has since offered the squatters a free, 30-day stay at a nearby hotel. However, they reportedly have not responded to the offer.

Tschogl also informed her guests that electricity would be shut off after their 44 day stay was over. But that similarly failed to get them out of the unit.

The guest texted back saying he was legally occupying the condo and that loss of electricity would threaten the work he does at home that brings in $1,000 to $7,000 a day.

They are also holding a potential lawsuit over Tschogl's head, demanding compensation for medical damages.

The texts threatened to press charges for "blackmail and damages caused by your negligence and malicious misconduct, including $3,800 PID Espresso machine as well as medical bills for my brother's hospital visit after he got sick here drinking unfiltered tap water."

Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas stressed to Valleywag that the situation was unacceptable. "Our initial response to this inquiry didn't meet the standards we set for ourselves and we've apologized to this host. Officials from our team have been in incredibly close contact with this host and she has been paid the full cost of the reservation and we're working with her to provide additional support as we move forward."

To contact the author of this post, please email kevin@valleywag.com.

[Photo: Airbnb]