Recently, a Los Angeles landlord successfully evicted a tenant who was renting part of her unit on the short term rental website, Airbnb. Chen v. Kraft provides some guidance to Los Angeles landlords looking to evict rent control tenants who are renting their units on Airbnb or other short term rental websites.
In 1997, Tenant had entered into a rental agreement in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Venice. The rental agreement allowed for Tenant to live there with her two young sons visiting on weekends. The rental agreement required that Landlord give ten days notice to Tenant to cure any breaches in the rental agreement.
On February 14, 2014, Landlord filed an unlawful detainer against Tenant after Landlord had served Tenant a 10-Day Notice to Perform or Quit requiring Tenant to stop subletting the unit to short term renters. Defendant responded that the prior landlord had allowed her to sublet. The Landlord filed a Motion for Summary Judgment alleging that there were no triable issues of material facts. The trial court granted Landlord’s Motion for Summary Judgment.
On appeal, the Court first found that Landlord could evict a tenant under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance if the tenant used or permitted the premises for any illegal purpose. Here, the Court found that the Tenant was operating a bed and breakfast facility and that such use would be a violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code which prohibits bed and breakfast facilities from R-1 zones.
In response to Tenant’s argument that the prior Landlord had allowed Airbnb rentals, the Court found that such contract would be illegal and void or enforceable. A court cannot enforce an illegal contract. Here, any agreement, whether written or oral, that allowed Tenant to sublet her unit on Airbnb would be illegal because Tenant would not be allowed to run a “bed and breakfast facility” or a transient occupancy use from her apartment, which was not zoned for such uses.
This case has important implications for landlords seeking to evict tenants who are subletting their units on Airbnb. This is of particular importance for landlords of rent control properties in the City of Los Angeles.