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Private Eyes Crack Down on Airbnb

In cities where living conditions are cramped, such as New York or San Francisco, it is understandable that residents get upset when their landlords give them the to use their apartments as mini-hotels. This will hopefully be the end of this practice, however, as these unlawfully ousted tenants have begun turning to private detectives to monitor their former apartments as if they were cheating spouses.

Some cities have already passed ordinances limiting the number of apartments that one person can rent out on a short-term basis, but most local governments simply do not have the huge staffs on hand that are needed to inspect and check up on every apartment or room listed on vacation rental sites.

This, however, leaves an opening for another way to enforce existing laws: lawsuits by tenants who believe that they were unfairly evicted to empty more apartments to serve as illegal hotels.

“Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, it’s a decent living in San Francisco right now being an investigator doing these kind of jobs, because here are so many of them,” one private investigator handling vacation rental cases told Bloomberg.

Private eyes are likely to pose as prospective tenants, or serve as the inspectors that cities wish they were able to deploy, checking these furnished apartments for safety violations and hotel-like amenities like tiny soaps.

The Consumerist reports that Airbnb has started to enforce some of cities’ limits and ordinances on vacation rentals, limiting hosts to one home within city limits in New York City and San Francisco. Yet the company also ensured that it wouldn’t be held liable or fined for hosts that use its service to offer infringing spaces.

Instead, maybe it’s up to tenants’ lawyers and their detectives to enforce the rules.

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