By Cody Laska
Technology & Innovation Writer
In an unprecedented action Apartment Investment and Management Company, better known as Aimco, has filed suits in California and Florida for monetary damages as well as court orders to keep its tenants from listing the rented properties on Airbnb. Overseeing over 50,000 properties Aimco alleges that Airbnb’s actions serve to directly violate leases and potentially put renters in danger; as with a regular hotel user, the person(s) in question do not need to go through a background check.
In a press release, relating to the suit Aimco CEO Terry Considine is quoted as saying “It is not acceptable to us that Airbnb actively promotes and profits form 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.”
Airbnb has remained largely silent on this case with the exception of one statement to the first newspaper to report the lawsuit, The Denver Business Journal. Spokesperson Nick Papas called the lawsuit an “attack on the middle class” that is “wholly without merit.”
Airbnb is seeking to fight the charges that will set a legal precedent for the years to come.
Aimco has over 50,000 properties under management and can be considered a titan of the industry. If Airbnb can find a way to overcome the legal battle they will solidify themselves in the temporary rental industry; if not, the following legal challenges from other landlords attempting to follow suit may overwhelm the silicon valley based app.
In an effort to avoid problems like this and prevent future lawsuits Airbnb has released an app specifically for landlords called the Airbnb Friendly Building Program. It allows for landlords to see how their tenants are renting the property out and to whom; while also allowing them to take between a five and 15 percent cut of the amount paid. This will prevent tenants from violating their lease but has the potential to create “shadow listings” where the actual listing is created in such a way that the landlord will not be able to find or notice their property being listed.
It is unclear whether or not the supposed olive branch of the Friendly Building Program will work or how many landlords are willing to work with Airbnb to alter leases to allow tenants more freedom of housing guests. One thing is for certain, the future of Airbnb whether positive or negative, hinges on this case.
Watching how Amazon Alexa takes over and how Amazon’s competitors retaliate will be very interesting. For now, just hope that your parents do not become too fascinated with Amazon Alexa for a while and learn how to operate it while you are away at college.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st, 2017 print edition.
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