DENVER, CO - Four subsidiaries of Apartment Investment and Management Company (Aimco) filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California in an effort to stop Airbnb from brokering illegal short-term rentals at four of Aimco's Southern California properties.
Aimco is taking this action after the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a lawsuit that the company filed against Airbnb in February 2017, after Airbnb ignored Aimco's previous requests to stop booking short-term rentals of Aimco apartments, in violation of its leases and Los Angeles housing codes. A separate lawsuit Aimco filed against Airbnb in Florida is still pending.
"We are standing up for the rights of our company and our residents who want and expect to live in peaceful, quiet residential communities," said Aimco Executive Vice President of Operations Keith Kimmel. "Our residents do not want to live in a de-facto hotel for spring-break partiers, vacationers and other unvetted strangers who disturb the peace at all hours, who have caused significant property damage, and who pose a safety risk to our residents."
Airbnb is a short-term rental property broker directly involved in business transactions between hosts and users. The leases for Aimco properties prohibit short-term rentals and commercial uses of the properties, to ensure the safety and security of those communities for full-time residents. The company and its residents want Airbnb to stop actively encouraging, participating in, and profiting from these lease violations. Rather than take responsibility for its actions, Airbnb seeks to hide behind a federal law that Congress enacted to protect internet platforms from liability for third-party inappropriate content, not to protect an internet company's own conduct.
Aimco frequently receives comments from our residents about the problems caused by short-term rental activity, which creates an atmosphere that is oftentimes less like a comfortable home and more like a busy hotel.
Airbnb trespassers routinely make noise, disturb the peace and raise safety concerns. Aimco communities are not equipped to handle large numbers of transient guests who may overload amenities and detract from the quiet and respectful environment residents expect. Aimco has spent considerable resources turning away Airbnb's short-term renters at the gate or escorting them from the premises. When a user books one of Aimco's apartments on Airbnb.com, Airbnb never warns the user that Aimco prohibits short-term rentals and may escort the user from the property.
"Aimco wants to ensure that our residents live in a safe, respectful environment, where they can get to know their neighbors and have community without having to worry about disturbances and security concerns by trespassers," said Kimmel. "While Aimco screens every one of our residents for criminal history, Airbnb does not take the same precautions with the users who rent on its site."
In one incident in October 2016, an unlawful Airbnb renter arrived at an Aimco apartment community at 3 a.m. and began banging on a resident's door. When the resident answered the door, the Airbnb guest ran away. Later that night, the property's security personnel called police to break up a physical altercation among other Airbnb guests.
At another community, Aimco was forced to hire a security team during the summer of 2016 to guard the swimming pool at the community, after numerous Airbnb guests were found to have been drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and behaving in a disrespectful manner at the facility.
Aimco has repeatedly asked Airbnb to stop renting Aimco's apartment homes to tourists and to block new rental transactions, but Airbnb has refused. Aimco asked Airbnb on at least three different occasions in 2016 and 2017 to stop booking vacation accommodations for Airbnb users at Aimco communities. Airbnb initially offered to help Aimco address some of its concerns, but only if Aimco joined Airbnb's "Friendly Buildings Program," which authorizes Airbnb to rent a building's apartments and provides building owners with a share of Airbnb's rental revenue.
Aimco refused to join Airbnb's "Friendly Buildings Program" because of the stress and disruptions, safety concerns and loss of community that short-term rentals cause to Aimco's full-time residents. Aimco stresses that short-term rentals should not be forced involuntarily on Aimco and other property owners who do not want to participate in this activity, nor on the residents who live in these communities.
Airbnb has, in essence, turned the "sharing economy" concept on its head by making use of property that does not belong to it for its own profit, without the consent of the owner.
Therefore, there was no other choice but to take the company to court to resolve the issue of Airbnb's renting Aimco apartments, in direct violation of the leases that all residents sign.
Aimco is one of the largest owners and operators of apartments in the U.S., with 188 communities in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Aimco common shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol AIV and are included in the S&P 500.