It’s sometimes said that uninvited guests are most welcome when they leave, but Brentwood resident Sascha Jovanovic wouldn’t know from personal experience.
Instead, as he detailed to the Los Angeles Times, a one-time Airbnb tenant has remained on his property for over a year, refusing to either leave or pay.
Jovanovich had initially approved the woman’s request for a six-month stay at a rate of $105 per night. When her stay was over and she refused to leave, that’s when the trouble began.
“This is like a nightmare, to be honest,” Jovanovic tells KTLA. “This is extortion. This is like manipulation. Nobody should go through this.”
“When Elizabeth Hirschhorn’s Airbnb stay ended in April 2022, she simply didn’t move out. She’s been living there rent-free ever since, and she refused to budge unless Jovanovic paid her a relocation fee of $100,000,” the Times reports.
Hirschhorn’s attorney told the Times that “she was not required to pay rent because the city had never approved the unit for occupancy and that its shower was constructed without a permit.”
Because of those code violations, the city determined that Jovanovic couldn’t evict Hirschhorn, whom he claims won’t let him into the unit to bring it up to code.
“She’s the tenant from hell,” Sebastian Rucci, an attorney representing Jovanovic, told the Times. “If she’s right, the theory is that if a landlord has something that isn’t permitted, then you can stay in it rent-free forever.”
“If the landlord does not have a certificate of occupancy, any contract they had is void, so legally, she actually owes nothing,” explains KTLA legal analyst, Alison Triessl. “But that does not leave him without remedy.”
Jovanovic and his lawyer have disputed the occupancy permit allegations and are trying to evict the woman.
“She is a smart person who knows how to manipulate the system and it is dangerous that people like this are allowed to do this,” Jovanovic said. “She is obviously trying to extort a community member and she has done this before.”
Jovanovic is referring to a Daily Mail article that claimed Hirschorn was kicked out of a $2.6 million Oakland rental home after refusing to leave. This allegedly happened just two months before she moved into Jovanovic’s Brentwood home.
Jovanovic claims Hirschorn is demanding a relocation fee of $100,000. Both parties have since filed lawsuits against each other.
“There is no way. I am not going to settle,” Jovanovic said. “This cannot be right and people like this have to be stopped.”
As the standoff between both parties continues and the case works its way through the courts, Jovanovic has this advice for Airbnb owners:
“If you go on Airbnb, do not rent out your place for more than 30 days,” he said. “That’s number one. Number two, do a background check.”
“This is an important warning to all homeowners out there,” Triessl added. “If you do not have a certificate of occupancy, you cannot rent out your place or you may very well be in the same situation this homeowner is currently in.”
KTLA has made numerous attempts to contact Hirschorn and her attorney but has not yet received a response.