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LA sues apartment owners for evicting tenants, then renting on Airbnb

The Airbnb website is displayed on a laptop on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California.
The Airbnb website is displayed on a laptop on April 21, 2014 in San Anselmo, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Several Los Angeles apartment owners are being sued by L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer for allegedly evicting tenants and then renting out the apartments via Airbnb.

Among the owners being sued are Carol J. Alsman and LSJB Investments LLC.

"The owner probably went through part of the process to go out of business as apartment owner, but then changed from apartments to short-term rental use through Airbnb, but then failed to allow the former tenants to rerent those units — you can’t do that," Feuer said.

Feuer stressed the housing crisis and explained that the crisis is having a negative effect on the city. Everything from transportation congestion to an imbalance between jobs and housing, he said it has contributed to to the absence of enough rental units that people can’t afford. 

But is there a legal way to convert a multi-unit apartment building to short-term, hotel-like rentals?

"Yes, but there are steps that need to be taken in order for the units to be turned into short-term rental use. The rules differ by city," said Feuer. "There’s a reason these rules are in place. These rules [are] because of the shortage of affordable housing stock in our city. These rules are also in place because in a residential zone, people have the right to expect that the uses will be residential.”

Some apartment owners are unsure where to go for help with converting some or all of their multifamily apartment units to Airbnb short-term rentals, legally.

Frederick Sutton says he advises owners to consult with the City Planning Department to inquire about the process.

"We represent multifamily, long-term owners, so generally, in the city of Los Angeles, we suggest they don’t engage in the process," Sutton said.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled the name of City Attorney Mike Feuer. 

This interview has been edited for clarity. 


Mike Feuer, City Attorney of L.A.

Frederick Sutton, Government Affairs Manager with the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles