Aimco Suffers Setback in Airbnb Lawsuit
Digested from Bloomberg and NAA reports
The home-sharing company is ruled not responsible for listings by hosts; similar lawsuit in Florida continues.
A federal judge in Los Angeles sided with Airbnb over a lawsuit brought by Aimco.
In the suit, the REIT alleged that the online home-sharing marketplace enables residents to break their lease agreements through unauthorized short-term rentals. Airbnb argued that it was protected by the Communications Decency Act, which is a 1996 law that shields online service providers from liability for the content users post, according to Bloomberg’s Edvard Pettersson.
“Here, what allegedly makes the listings ‘unlawful,’ ‘illegal,’ or ‘offending’ is that they advertise rentals that violate Aimco’s lease agreements,” U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said. “Airbnb hosts, not Airbnb, are responsible for providing the actual listing information.”
According to the Aimco complaint, Airbnb is directly involved in business transactions among their hosts and users and should be held accountable for actively promoting and brokering the breaching of leases. Aimco leases strictly forbid short-term rentals.
“If other property owners decide it is worthwhile to do business with Airbnb, that is their right,” Aimco Executive Vice President of Operations Keith Kimmel tells NAA. “However, Aimco and other concerned property owners are entitled to their right not to participate in this short-term rental activity. It is astounding to us that Airbnb blatantly ignores and disrespects our rights as property owners, contracts with some of our residents to breach their leases, and knowingly interferes with, and directly profits from, the contractual agreements we have with our residents.”
Aimco sued Airbnb last year expressing concern that Airbnb transient guests are unvetted, have no vested interest in maintaining a peaceful community atmosphere for Aimco residents and create significant safety, noise and nuisance concerns for Aimco’s full-time residents. Aimco has hired additional personnel to protect its residents and preserve the residential character of its communities.
An identical suit by Aimco continues in Florida, where several weeks ago the court there denied Airbnb’s request for dismissal.
Aimco Spokesperson Cindy Lempke says, “We strongly disagree with the California Court’s reasoning and application of the Communication Decency Act and we are considering all of our legal options in California.”
One option is to appeal to the 9th Circuit Court.
“Airbnb is not a passive online platform, but an active and knowing participant in the illegal short-term rentals of our apartments,” Lempke says. “Aimco has made the deliberate choice to expressly prohibit short-term rentals to unaccountable Airbnb users who have not undergone our background screening, who cause disruption for our residents, and who are apt to treat our apartments like hotel rooms rather than homes. We will continue to do all we can to stand up for our residents, advocate for our private property rights, and address the upheaval caused by Airbnb.”
Airbnb celebrated the ruling.
“We are pleased with the court’s decision that ensures Airbnb can continue to support tenant hosts who use our platform to help pay the bills,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in an email touting the company’s Friendly Buildings Program. “The partnerships we have established with landlords have made it clear that home sharing can be a win-win situation for everyone.”