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Airbnb host battles nightmare guest squatters who refuse to leave after 8 months, say they're 'legal residents'

Dan Latu   

Airbnb host battles nightmare guest squatters who refuse to leave after 8 months, say they're 'legal residents'
  • Farzana Rahman, an orthodontist, operates two Airbnbs in the Durham, North Carolina, area.
  • Guests who checked into one home in October and booked to stay until May now refuse to leave.

Guests in a North Carolina Airbnb rental are refusing to leave the property after an eight-month stay, according to the homeowner.

They taped a sign to the Airbnb's door that says they are "legal residents," said the Airbnb host, Farzana Rahman.

"It's not fair," Rahman told Business Insider. "I'm losing rent."

Rahman purchased the two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo in a quiet neighborhood of Durham in 2023. It's her second Airbnb in the area.

Rahman, an orthodontist, told local outlet ABC 7 that she started her Airbnb side hustle to help pay her kid's college tuition.

The guests were difficult from the start, the host said

There were red flags with these guests from the start, Rahman said.

A woman in her mid-30s initially booked the rental for two guests from October 25, 2023, through May 24, 2024, she said.

The woman asked Rahman to move the conversation off the Airbnb platform, Rahman told Business Insider, saying it would be easier to communicate via their cellphones. Rahman said the guest also asked Rahman if she could pay in cash, instead of through the Airbnb platform.

Rahman denied both requests, saying she was faithful to her agreements with Airbnb and wanted to keep communication and payment on the platform.

The guests were late with payments, Rahman said

When an Airbnb guest books a shorter stay, like a long weekend, they'll typically pay the full price of the rental in one lump sum.

But when guests stay for extended periods, Airbnb offers the option to pay in monthly installments, akin to a traditional rental. Prices for Rahman's rental would fluctuate based on demand, she said, but the guests were paying about $2,200 each month.

Rahman said the guests were late with payments nearly every month, because the credit card attached to their Airbnb account routinely bounced. The guests even missed January's payment, though they eventually made up the difference, she added.

They continued to ask if they could pay in cash and would make excuses such as losing a credit card for the late payments, Rahman told BI.

The guests turned into squatters on their checkout date

Trouble began on May 24, when the guests were scheduled to check out.

Rahman said her cleaning crew arrived at the property to turn it over. The guests told the cleaners to leave and asked Rahman if they could stay through May 27 — Memorial Day.

Rahman relented and sent the cleaners back on the agreed-upon date, but the guests again refused to leave.

Rahman reached out to Airbnb for help but was told to contact local authorities, according to screenshots Rahman shared with Business Insider. She went to the property with police, and the guests said they'd leave the following day, she said.

Rahman sent the cleaners back a third time, only to find a note taped to the door, warning them to leave the premises or the guests would "press charges," she told Business Insider.

The note said the guests are "legal residents of the home" and would not leave until Rahman "filed the proper paperwork with the civil magistrate for an eviction."

Other hosts should watch out for red flags, Rahman said

Rahman couldn't proceed with a two-month booking for May and June because the old guests are still occupying the home.

She said she's worried about losing more bookings on the property if the chaos continues.

Rahman filed paperwork to evict the guests and has a court hearing on Thursday, June 13.

In North Carolina, a "squatter" would have to actively live in a property for over 20 years to lay a claim to ownership, according to landlord-insurance company Steadily.

"Issues like this are very rare on Airbnb, and our team is continuing to work with our host to provide support," an Airbnb spokesperson said in an email to BI.

Rahman said she wants to warn other hosts to proceed with caution if guests try to break Airbnb rules, like requesting to communicate outside the platform.

"If you see red flags at the beginning, people trying to make you break your contract and go outside," she told Business Insider. "You shouldn't rent it to those people."

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