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Shielding Your Sanctuary: Lessons from a LA Short-Term Rental Horror Story


By: Brad Greiner, CEO of Open Air Homes and OpenAiRE Brokerage

Sascha Jovanovic‘s unsettling clash with a tenant is a stark reminder for property owners. Dive into Open Air Homes’ strategy for steadfast protection.

An Airbnb Host’s Cautionary Tale

In a harrowing narrative echoing across the Los Angeles property rental scene, Sascha Jovanovic finds himself ensnared in an unrelenting tug-of-war with tenant Elizabeth Hirschhorn. With an overstayed welcome and ceased rental payments for 18 months, the story underscores a nightmare scenario that has struck fear into the hearts of property owners across the board.

The Prudent Precautions of Open Air Homes

To shield homeowners from such unforeseen and potential calamities, Open Air Homes instituted pivotal steps, metamorphosing into a legal real estate brokerage back in 2019. The enforcement of the California Association of Realtors (CAR) form for stays exceeding a 30-day threshold embodies a shrewd maneuver, offering a safety net for homeowners against the risks of tenant default.

CAR forms for a guest staying over 31 nights does sound like overkill.  However, to legally be protected in California from squatters, it is a necessary step, and as a caution to every homeowner in Los Angeles, if you are accepting rentals over 31 days without a signed CAR form, this story could eventually be you. 

Grasping California’s Rental Legal Landscape

In the eyes of California law, the definitions of “guest” and “tenant” pivot on the duration of stay: a span of 1-29 days designates an individual as a guest, often incurring a transient occupancy tax, while a stay exceeding 30 days morphs their status into that of a tenant, subject to an altered set of regulations and entitlements. Employing the CAR form as a protective shield, Open Air Homes ensures that extended stays are securely cocooned within a defined legal framework, fortifying against potential non-payment and overstay scenarios.

While Hirschhorn can make the case that she can stay indefinitely, having a signed CAR form by this tenant would make it much easier to begin the eviction process, whereas, without a CAR form, it further complicates the process to evict. 

Traversing the Legal Minefield

Hirschhorn, backed by her attorney, exploited a loophole, asserting that due to non-permitted unit amenities, her obligation to pay rent dissipated. With L.A.’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance and Just Cause Ordinance furnishing tenants with formidable legal shields, the complexity and risk of the rental landscape are further elevated, illustrating a crucial need for precise legal navigation from the outset of any rental agreement.

The Indispensable Role of a Property Manager Backed by a Real Estate Brokerage

Entwining the process with a property manager tethered to a real estate brokerage becomes paramount, particularly for homeowners contemplating dives into 30+ day rentals. This fusion ensures alignment with legal protocols, safeguarding homeowners from the potential of squatter scenarios and legal maneuverings that might otherwise leave them exposed and vulnerable.

Weighing Risks in Rental Ventures

Open Air Homes persistently champions a meticulous and legally-astute approach to property rentals, particularly in the complex regulatory environment of Los Angeles. Engaging homeowners with a meticulous breakdown of the risks and rewards inherent to short, medium (30-90 days), and long-term rentals, Open Air Homes not only informs but secures, building a protective buffer against the potential legal and financial pitfalls embedded in the property rental domain.  

Standing Guard Against Tenant Malpractice

In a market punctuated by evolving narratives and cautionary tales such as Jovanovic’s, Open Air Homes remains steadfast, committed to shielding homeowners and maintaining the property rental integrity. This ensures investments are not only preserved but defended against the fluctuating, and often challenging, tides of tenant interactions and regulatory compliance.

While we fully believe in tenant rights, we believe that Hirschhorn is clearly taking advantage of a loop hole in the system, and if every tenant used this approach, society would cease to function. 

In the shadow of distressing stories and amidst the complexities of rental laws, Open Air Homes advocates for and implements strategies designed to safeguard investments and maintain a transparent, secure, and mutually beneficial environment for both homeowners and legitimate tenants alike. The mission stands: protect, navigate, and prosper amidst the oscillating waves of the property rental sea.



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