Airbnb tenant refuses to leave after staying in LA home for 17 months rent-free

ByChristiane Cordero KABC logo
Friday, October 6, 2023
Airbnb nightmare: Tenant won't pay rent, won't leave Brentwood home
A Brentwood homeowner is facing a nightmare after an Airbnb tenant moved in and now refuses to leave.

LOS ANGELES -- In the Brentwood, Los Angeles hillsides sits a community whose neighbors include LeBron James and singer Fergie.

But the resident everyone seems to be talking about lives in a guest house, for free.

"My husband yesterday was outside, and some guy comes by and goes, 'You know you're living next door to a squatter?!'" said Debbie Berman, who lives nearby.

A periodontist named Aleksandar "Sascha" Jovanovic bought the house in 1995. Through the years he's remodeled it, and in 2019 decided to rent the guest house on Airbnb.

That's how he and Elizabeth Hirschhorn's paths crossed.

She was looking for a place to stay for six months.

That was more than two years ago.

Repairs the guest house needed four months into her visit caused the initial animosity, which led Jovanovic to extend Hirschhorn's stay beyond her Airbnb reservation.

Because they made an unofficial agreement, Airbnb is no longer getting involved.

And the guest house itself doesn't have the right permits, so Jovanovic needs to find a legal reason to evict her, which he has yet to do successfully.

Hirschhorn stopped paying in April 2022, according to court documents, but still lives there.

"I think it's going to get even more unpleasant for her now, because I think the whole neighborhood heard about it," said Berman.

Jovanovic said his hope in going public with his story is to help prevent others from facing a similar problem.

"To live in a nightmare like this and not feel protected by the city, not feel protected by the police is a terrible feeling," he said. "And it's something I don't want anybody to go through."

He said he didn't originally intend to list his home on Airbnb. But during the Getty Center fire in 2019, he and his family were forced to move out - and some of his neighbors lost their homes.

They moved into an Airbnb and enjoyed the experience.

"I said hey we have a part of our house which is empty. Why not share this beautiful home with people who need it?" he recalled.

And with most of his other tenants it had been a very positive experience, he said.

"It was actually a great sharing. Great people. A lot of overseas people came for work or whatever."

"Then this nightmare started," he said.

Hirschhorn's attorney has not responded to ABC7's requests for comment but told The Los Angeles Times Jovanovic has harassed her and is suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things.

Jovanovic just wants her gone, and the nearly $60,000 in owed rent paid.

All of which is for a judge to decide.

Squatter refuses to leave Los Angeles Airbnb property after not paying rent since April 2022.