Airbnb, Zeus Living mired in eviction funds
In a gentrifying neighborhood of San Francisco, a couple exit their cab and head toward an apartment, rolling suitcases behind them. Unbeknownst to them, a private investigator by the name of Michael Joffe sits in his parked car just across the street, discreetly snapping pictures.
The goal of the stakeout was to uncover, and document, smoking-gun proof that the landlord is violating city ordinances limiting the use of private homes for short-term rentals. It’s very lucrative work nowadays in San Francisco, the city that’s come to represent America’s shortage of affordable housing.
“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,“ Joffe, 48, said. Airbnb disputes that home-sharing has significantly reduced housing for the poor and moderate-income, pointing the finger instead at rising demand and restrictions on building new units. But in recent weeks it has taken steps to comfort alarmed officials, a sign perhaps that these sorts of aggressive steps by tenants are helping sway the debate. Starting in November, for example, Airbnb instituted a “one host, one home“ policy in San Francisco and New York as a way to knock out investors who may be collecting apartments to market on the web for short stays.
“We strongly oppose illegal hotels and bad actors who remove housing from the market,“ said company spokesman Nick Papas. “We’ve removed thousands of listings from our platform that aren’t right for our community. We are committed to working with cities to address their specific needs.“