Illegal Airbnb Listing in Los Angeles Leaves Guests and Owner Equally Frustrated

The listing has since been taken down

Airbnb logo on phone
Sometimes Airbnb listings can go very wrong.
Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Every year, countless travelers use Airbnb and similar services to stay in spaces temporarily for reasons of work, leisure or both. The vast majority of these people encounter no issues and have a worry-free experience. But when something does go wrong, it can often do so in spectacular fashion — whether it’s a listing operated by a scammer or a broader catfishing scheme. And then there’s the case of an illegal listing in Los Angeles, which appears to have left both the homeowner and travelers who’d booked stays there facing epic frustrations.

At the Los Angeles Times, Jack Flemming chronicled just what went wrong — and the lawsuit that followed. The short version: Los Angeles resident Nikeeta Sriram bought a home for $1.7 million while she was renting another home from a friend. She told the Times that she didn’t want to break her existing lease and sought to rent the home out in the intervening time, all of which sounds pretty logical.

The tenant who ended up living there, one Nicholas Jarzabek, signed a lease that barred him from subletting the home or listing it on Airbnb. More than a year into his time there, however, security company ADT notified Sriram that Airbnb guests had accidentally set off the home’s alarm system. Sriram asked Jarzabek if he’d listed the home on Airbnb; he said that he had not. Then Sriram looked on Airbnb and found it listed there.

As per the Times‘ reporting, Sriram ended up arriving at the house herself to notify people who’d rented it via Airbnb of the situation.

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The specifics of how the house was listed — including a lack of exterior photos — shows that there are still ways to work around Airbnb’s own policies to prevent situations like this from happening. An Airbnb spokesperson told the Times, “There is no place on Airbnb for hosts who circumvent the City of Los Angeles’ homesharing ordinance or our Terms of Service.” The company also took the listing down.

But, as Flemming pointed out, it’s also virtually impossible for the company to verify that every host is in compliance with the company’s policies — leaving room for unethical practices to be carried out.


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