Airbnb renters refuse to leave, put up no trespassing sign on Durham woman's property

Diane Wilson Image
Saturday, June 8, 2024 12:00AM
Squatters at Durham home refuse to leave after renting on Airbnb
A months-long Airbnb rental has become a nightmare for the host, because the renters refuse to leave.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A months-long Airbnb rental has become a nightmare for the host, because the renters refuse to leave.

A single parent in the Triangle is out money and now is having to fight to get her property back.

"Now they're refusing to leave until there's an eviction order. I think they're just trying to gain time to stay there for free because they haven't paid," Farzana Rahman said.

This all started when Rahman's most recent Airbnb guests made a long-term rental reservation through Airbnb. They checked in on October 25, 2023 with a check out date of May 24, 2024.

When Rahman's cleaning lady went to clean the rental the renters were still there.

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Amanda Kraynak learned she had been wrongly charged with trespassing and resisting a public officer in Durham in a case of mistaken identity.

"They answered the door and they said, 'No, we haven't moved out.' She said, 'Should I come tomorrow?' And they said, 'No, don't come back,'" Rahman said.

Rahman then went to the rental with the police, and the renters promised the police officer they would leave first thing in the morning. The next morning, the renters were still not gone.

Instead, a handwritten no trespassing sign was on the front door, that stated, "We will vacate the property when you filed the proper paperwork with the civil magistrate for an eviction, for we are legal residents of this home."

"This is my place, and I mean, I'm counting on this income; my son is in college. I'm a single parent," Rahman said.

Rahman contacted Airbnb for help as she already had another long-term renter booked through Airbnb ready to move in. She said Airbnb has not been helpful.

"They're sending me messages as please get help for your safety and get whatever legal help you have to get to get them out," she said.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson reached out to Airbnb several times, but no one got back to her. Airbnb does have on its website a section devoted to things to consider before hosting monthly stays. Airbnb warns hosts who have guests who stay for a month or longer that they may not be able to remove a guest without going to court.

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Attorney General Josh Stein announced a settlement with a Raleigh landlord who was the subject of an ABC11 Troubleshooter investigation.

Attorney Maya Davis with The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin said when guests stay longer than 90 days, it's typically considered a holdover tenant.

"The longer they stay, the more rights they develop, so the quicker you can act and get them out of there, the better it is," Davis said.

She suggests a host's first step is to call the police when a guest won't leave, and if the police won't take action, you need to file with the courts right away.

"You may have to file what we call the summary ejectment, which means that you want this person out, but you have to go through the court proceedings. So at that point, you have to give notice. You have to file and serve papers. You have to appear in court and get the court to grant that before you just remove someone from the property," Davis said.

Troubleshooter Diane Wilson did go to Rahman's rental. No one answered the door. Wilson also left a message with the number listed on the sign, but no one called back.

As for Rahman, she filed eviction paperwork with the courts to try and get possession of her rental.

"It's wasted my time; it is wasting my energy; it is stressing me out," she said.

The court date for eviction is scheduled for the week of June 13.