An Airbnb guest has been staying in a luxury Los Angeles mansion for more than a year and is refusing to leave unless the landlord pays her a $100,000 relocation fee, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the media outlet, Aleksandar Jovanovic, an internationally celebrated periodontist rented out the mansion to Elizabeth Hirschhorn back in September 2021. She rented the house for six months at a rate of $105 a night, with fees bringing the total to $20,793, according to court documents. However, her stay ended in April 2022 and she has been staying there rent-free ever since. Mr Jovanovic is fearful for his and his family’s safety.
“I can never go into my home and know that I’m safe when a potentially hostile person is living there,” the landlord told The Los Angeles Times. “I’m thinking about it at all times.”
A judge recently ruled that the squatter can stay for as long as she likes.
Mr Jovanovic is struggling to kick the tenant out because his guest house was not supposed to be rented. He rented the house without a certificate of occupancy or proper registration. It also has a shower installed illegally in the unit.
Ms Hirschhorn’s attorney in an email told LA Times argued that “$100,000 is [Jovanovic’s] cheapest way of getting off the whole ordeal.”
“It is the home of the tenant until the landlord gets a judgment, however distasteful that is to your client.”
“The landlord broke the law and tried to make money by renting out an illegal bootleg unit,” her attorney, Colin Walshok told the LA Times.
“After he was caught, instead of doing the right thing, he has resorted to bullying, harassment and the filing of frivolous lawsuits containing elaborate false stories, all in an attempt to cover his tracks.”
Mr Jovanovic’s lawyer Sebastian Rucci said that she’s the tenant from hell. “If she’s right, the theory is that if a landlord has something that isn’t permitted, then you can stay in it rent-free forever.”
The early days were pleasant, Mr. Jovanovic told the LA Times. They exchanged niceties when their paths crossed, and they shared tea and small talk on the deck that separates the main house and ADU.
According to the lawsuit, the tension began about five months in, when Hirschhorn said her electronic blinds stopped working. When Mr Jovanovic went in to repair them, he noticed water damage and signs of mould around the sink, which he said weren’t there before her stay.
He offered to pay her to stay at a hotel for five days, but she refused. He even offered her to stay at his house, but she declined that as well, citing an extreme disability due to cat dander.
She claims in a countersuit that he “inappropriately invited” her to move in with him.
The tension lasted through the end of her stay till the end of March 2022. When it became clear to Mr. Jovanovic that she wasn’t leaving, he allowed her to stay till April 12 so she could find another place.
“She asked for more time, but I told her it wasn’t possible since I had other Airbnb reservations coming up,” he said. “But then I tried to be nice and give her an extra few weeks.”
Mr Jovanovic reached out to the city’s Department of Building Safety because she refused to move.
She then sent a complaint to a housing investigator, alleging illegal eviction, harassment and a refusal to pay her relocation fees.
The housing investigator said that the unit violated city codes. And Mr Jovanovic should withdraw his eviction notice until he can prove the guest house was in compliance.