North Texas

] Listing Apartment Gets Tenant in Trouble

One North Texas woman is fighting to stay in her home after she listed her apartment on Airbnb.

Airbnb is a service that lets you rent a room in someone's home instead of paying for a pricey hotel.

It's popular in big cities like New York and San Francisco and it's picking up steam here too. But if you use the service and you're a renter - you may run into trouble.

Ashley Stanley is a single mom. She's also a real estate broker.

"I'm a real estate broker and have been doing traditional apartment locating for 14 years," said Stanley.

So Stanley thought she was fine when she listed her apartment at 1900 Elm on Airbnb.  Her lease doesn't allow subletting without the landlord's prior consent, but Stanley didn't think that's what she was doing.

"The definition of subleasing does not apply," said Stanely. "Nor am I assigning my rights. I'm not saying, here's the entire apartment, you finish out the rest of the lease term."

So when Stanley received an eviction notice, she decided to fight it. Hers is just one of several similar cases across the country.

Mary Spector is a law professor at Southern Methodist University. She is not connected to the case. She says as a tenant, proceed carefully because, "You may be hurting the landlord and possibly other tenants in the building as well."

Spector says landlords have a legitmate beef. "The landlord presumably screen tenants before agreeing to lease to them," said Spector. "There's no guarantee that she's been engaging in that same kind of screening that the landlords wants."

The property management for Stanley's apartment building, 1900 Elm, sent us this statement:

"1900 Elm is committed to its residents' comfort and quiet enjoyment of their apartments. To that end, applicants for residency at 1900 Elm are given a background check, which includes criminal history, before renting one of our apartments.

Unfortunately, guests and customers who book stays at 1900 Elm's apartments through Airbnb and other subletting services are not vetted with the same rigor as 1900 Elm residents, or are potentially not vetted at all, and may pose a potential risk to the safety of 1900 Elm's community.

1900 Elm certainly understands that residents are entitled to have guests, but guests are typically family members, friends and colleagues-not strangers they meet online who stay in the resident's apartment for compensation when the resident is absent.

For these reasons, 1900 Elm's apartment lease contracts contain an explicit provision that forbids subletting an apartment in 1900 Elm's community without 1900 Elm's written consent. A resident who sublets his or her unit using Airbnb, or any subletting service, without 1900 Elm's written consent has therefore both created a security risk for the 1900 Elm community and breached his or her lease agreement, and is therefore subject to being evicted through the judicial process.

1900 Elm is by no means unique in this regard. 1900 Elm uses the Texas Apartment Association Apartment lease contract form, which is used by the approximately 11,000 members of TAA, representing more than 2 million rental units throughout the state.

Regarding the eviction of Ashley Stanley, specifically, a trial was held on January 12, 2016 and the court rendered a judgment evicting Ms. Stanley in 1900 Elm's favor. Ms. Stanley has appealed the court's decision and the litigation remains ongoing."

Stanley says she wasn't trying to hurt anybody, just offset costs but she has a new apartment lined up, just in case. " I love living here," said Stanley. "I believe I had found the apartment that I would want to stay in for a long time."

A judge has sided with the landlord  in Stanley's case. She's appealing and should find out if she has to move in the next couple weeks.

We also contacted Airbnb. They did not get back with us.

If you rent and you're considering Airbnb, read your lease carefully. Contact your landlord before you list your apartment. If they approve, get that approval in writing.

SMU has legal clinics if you need help. There's also the Landlord Tenants Union where tenants' rights workshops are held every Wednesday night

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