California tenant law grants the nightmare guest "squatter's rights"

July 23, 2014 12:30 PM

Cory Tschogl, 39, rented out her Palm Springs, California, vacation home to someone on Airbnb for 44 days.

After 30 days, that person stopped paying, and now he won’t leave.

The problem? After 30 days, a tenant, even a temporary one, gains “squatter’s rights” under California law. Now Tschogl’s looking at a costly, months-long legal battle to evict the tenant.

The tenant was a difficult one from the start: Tschogl told the San Francisco Chronicle that “When he first checked in, he complained about the tap water – it’s hard water with minerals because it’s in the desert.”

The issues didn’t stop there. The tenant has been using triple to quadruple the home’s normal electric power: Tschogl’s father visited the home several times and photographed it with the sliding glass doors and window wide open.

Tschogl texted the renter that his reservation contract was up after 44 days and that the power would be shut off in 24 hours. He responded with a series of texts that said he was legally occupying the condo and threatened to press charges against Tschogl 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 was initially slow to respond to Tschogl’s emails and calls, but has since offered to assist Tschogl with her legal fees.

“I understand that Airbnb is an emerging company, and I like the idea of it,” she said. “However, I don’t think they’re equipped to deal with this type of situation.”

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