Poonam Sandhu can top even your worst sophomore-year horror stories. The 33-year-old from Watsonville, Calif. had hoped to earn some extra cash by renting out her spare room on Airbnb. She took on two tenants – a couple – and they paid her on time for two solid weeks.
At the start of the third week, they told her that they were waiting for their paychecks and asked if she’d accept a cash payment. The kind-hearted (or naive) Sandhu agreed. They paid her in cash “on and off,” then they stopped paying her at all.
At that point – more than a month into their uneasy arrangement – Sandhu had enough. She’d had to call the police on more than one occasion to break up fights between the pair.
She’d installed eight security cameras so she could see which of her personal possessions they were handling. On one occasion they did something so heinous to her plumbing system that the water had to be shut off for three days. She told CBS San Francisco:
It’s essentially like watching burglars in your house, constantly waiting for them to pick up the next item.
She tried to kick them out, but they refused to go. She offered to get them a hotel, but they declined the offer. She hired a lawyer and served them with eviction papers, which they totally ignored. And – worst of all – California law is on their side. Attorney Leo B. Siegel told ABC News:
Once someone’s been inside your house for more than 30 days, they’re considered a tenant. They’re entitled to 30 days’ notice before you can even file the lawsuit.
The couple has at least three other eviction judgments against them in the county, so despite their disheveled appearances, they appear to know exactly what they’re doing – and what their rights are. After all of her nerves were frayed beyond recognition (and enduring what she called “the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life”), Sandu offered them the oddly specific amount of $1,700.50 to get them to pack up and leave for good, and they accepted.
In a statement, Airbnb said:
This not an Airbnb reservation. We encourage and remind all hosts to only book guests through Airbnb.
Although it started as an Airbnb reservation, Sandhu lost the company’s insurance protections after allowing them to pay her in cash instead of through the online platform. The company has said that it is working on changes to its terms and conditions to add a financial penalty for anyone who overstays their approved-upon welcome.
Airbnb has also advised amateur landlords to do background checks on their tenants. “All these things I’m learning the hard way,” Sandhu said.
She could not get them out because she did not play on the same level as those asswipes did. Play the game by different rules and you can win more often.