Airbnb Says It Won’t Let Landlords Cash In on a Potential Plague of Evictions

A new policy would keep landlords from listing properties where a tenant was booted for failing to pay rent

With California possibly heading toward an unprecedented crisis as hundreds of thousands of tenants face the expiration of both state and federal eviction moratoriums on June 30, Airbnb is banning landlords from attempting to profit off the pain.

On Tuesday, the short-term rental company enacted a policy that bars landlords from listing properties where they have evicted a renter for failure to pay rent, the Washington Post reports. Airbnb says the new rule will be in effect until at least the end of the year, and that it will work with cities to identify rentals where someone has been thrown out because they lost COVID-era tenant protections.

In Los Angeles County alone, nearly 300,000 renters may be served with eviction notices on July 1, with roughly 512,000 people reporting little-to-no confidence they will be able to pay their next month’s rent. Nationally, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 10.5 million adults are behind on their rent, and states that the economic impact of the pandemic has been “particularly prevalent among Black adults, Latino adults, and other people of color.”

The City of Los Angeles has strict regulations to keep landlords from running apartment buildings like hotels—dictating that only primary residences can be used as short-term rentals and that all must be registered with the city—but as of last summer, there were still thousands of listings on the site and other similar sites that violate the law.

David Chiu, chair of the California Assembly’s Housing and Community Development Committee, led efforts to regulate Airbnb while he was president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, and is now calling for other short-stay companies to follow Airbnb’s lead. Chiu is also urging the state to extend the eviction moratorium.

“It’s very helpful Airbnb is doing their part to ensure that their short-term rentals are not contributing to evictions,” Chiu told the Post. “We’re very concerned about seeing a significant crisis when the moratorium goes away.”

Barbara Schultz, director of housing justice for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, says part of the Golden State’s problem is that it has misspent, or has not spent, millions in federal dollars meant to help prevent people from going into crushing debt throughout the crisis.

“California got quite a bit of federal aid to pay down some of this debt,” she told Los Angeles Tuesday. “So we really need to kind of hold off and let that work so that folks can get the rental assistance before we start saying that they can be evicted or sued for the consumer debts.”

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