A big property landlord is fighting back and suing Airbnb

Landlords have long been wary of Airbnb, which lets individuals rent out spare space in their homes to guests, but one landlord is now going further, and taking the company to court.

Apartment Investment and Management Company (Aimco), a big property manager that oversees over 50,000 properties, filed lawsuits in both California and Florida seeking monetary damages and court orders preventing Airbnb from listing its units.

“It is not acceptable to us that Airbnb actively promotes and profits from deliberate breaches of our leases, and does so in utter disregard of the disrespectful and unsafe situations created for our full-time residents and their families,” Aimco CEO Terry Considine said in a press release.

Aimco says that it reached out to Airbnb three times in the fall to alert the company that the listings on its platform violated its leases. Yet, the home-sharing platform did nothing about it and continued to maintain the listings, Aimco claims.

Airbnb didn’t respond to a request for comment on why it didn’t remove the listings if they were violating tenant leases, but it does plan to fight it. “This attack on the middle class by powerful interests is wholly without merit,” said Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas. The Denver Business Journal first reported the lawsuit.

The landlord company believes that Airbnb’s “transient” guests pose security risks to its residents. Aimco residents have to undergo background checks and credit history reviews before renting from the company. Airbnb, like hotels, doesn’t require any form of background reviews before people can rent.

“We are asking the courts to compensate Aimco for our losses and to enjoin Airbnb from participation in further illegal activity at our properties so that our law-abiding residents can enjoy a high quality living experience,” Considine said.

The olive branch

While Airbnb isn’t ignorant of its tenuous relationship with landlords, it has previously tried to work with building management rather than be seen as an enemy. In September 2016, it created a new service called the Airbnb Friendly Building Program. The program is essentially an olive branch to the real estate industry, and will allow landlords to keep tabs on how their tenants are listing and renting their apartments on Airbnb.

The program allows building owners to apply for the program and, if accepted, decide on the terms for renting a unit in their building. The owners can submit those terms to Airbnb and change the tenant’s lease to reflect the agreements.

There’s only one issue: while the upside of the program is that tenants will now be in accordance with their lease and won’t face eviction if they list their place without consent, they will also stand to make less money off the listing. Airbnb says it recommends landlords take 5% to 15%, but it’s left entirely up to the landlords to determine how much of a cut to take.

It’s unclear, though, how many landlords are deciding to work with Airbnb on crafting friendly leases using the pilot program. Aimco’s suit, however, means there is at least one landlord now willing to fight the company in court.

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