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Airbnb Squatters: All you need to know

Last updated on June 26th, 2023

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    Meaning of an Airbnb squatter?

    Airbnb hosts may be aware of the term “squatting” when referring to their rental properties, but most are not aware of its relevance to their Airbnb. Airbnb and other short-term rentals in general aim to maintain a constant flow of temporary guests, which is the opposite of a squatter. Squatters are those who:

    • Occupying or settling in a place over which they have no legal claim
    • Overstays their last rental payment intentionally
    • And/or someone who illegally occupies vacant or unoccupied land or property.

    Squatting isn’t limited to long-term rentals, unfortunately. With the increasing trend of longer stays in places like Airbnb and vacation rentals, squatting can be an issue.
    Airbnb squatters are people who overstay their reservations and occupy the Airbnb property. In contrast to an Airbnb squatter, a typical squatter may have breached a lease agreement or trespassed.

    How to Identify a Squatter

    The best thing you can do for your home is to be on the lookout for squatters before they make a reservation. When you have squatters on your property, the process becomes much more difficult, so keep an eye out for these uninvited guests.

    A questionable visitor profile

    You should weed out squatters early in the reservation process when they show up, so you can avoid having to cancel the reservation or deal with squatting later on.

    You may read about all the signals to look for while screening unwelcome visitors here, however, there are a few that stand out:

    • A blurry or pixelated profile picture
    • Only complete the required fields on Airbnb
    • The profile was made before the booking request.
    A profile may be questionable

    If a guest refuses to provide you with more information, it’s best to decline the reservation. A week’s vacancy is less expensive than months of an unpaid tenancy.

    Unreliable communication

    Having a guest with a new profile isn’t usually a bad sign, especially if they communicate. Guests are not confirmed because they are unaware of how important it is. They are, after all, vacationers, not experts.

    Asking Questions

    If they don’t have an “about me” area, ask them some questions! “Could you tell me about your itinerary?” “Why are you traveling?” “Tell me more about yourself!” -these are all excellent questions for separating the visitors from the squatters. You may even receive a “green flag” response, such as a screenshot of their schedule displaying their return flight.

    References| lodgify.com | ipropertymanagment.com

    Squatters on Airbnb: Do They Have Any Rights?

    Although it may seem difficult to believe that an unlawful squatter has rights, they do! The adverse possession laws allow squatters to live in another person’s home if the legitimate owner does not take action against them. Under adverse possession rules, someone who occupies a property in an open and obvious way for a long time can get a title. This may seem unfair to you as the lawful owner, but the law is in place to discourage the ownership of underutilized property.

    Most states allow tenants to claim tenant rights after 30 days, but the rules differ by state about adverse possession. Many websites tell Airbnb, VRBO, and direct booking providers to keep their rentals under 30 days to avoid squatters. Recent mid-term rental increases have led some hosts to reconsider their mid-term rental durations to avoid acquiring a squatter.

    Tips to avoid Airbnb squatters

    Understand the Rental Laws

    When renting out their space on Airbnb, many hosts overlook leasing restrictions. The first step in avoiding Airbnb squatters is to become informed about the renting legislation in your area. An Airbnb host must know their state’s landlord/tenant laws so that they can avoid being in a situation where guests refuse to leave. You must know how long an Airbnb visitor can stay before gaining tenant rights.

    Don’t Allow Stays of 30 or More Days

    As mentioned, in most states, a guest who stays for 30 days or more acquires tenant rights. Some honest Airbnb guests will book stays for longer than 30 days and leave when their stay is up. But, to keep a temporary Airbnb guest from attaining tenant rights, ensure you keep the length of the rental under 30 days. Airbnb squatters may target you if you allow stays longer than 30 days in your unit.

    Be sure to inform guests that any arrangement is only for the duration of their stay and that they must vacate the premises at the end of their stay.

    Make all your arrangements through the Airbnb platform

    Another strategy to avoid squatters on Airbnb is to do all business through the platform. Although it may be tempting to make a few more dollars by negotiating a deal on Airbnb, this might lead to Airbnb squatters in your home. It’s hazardous to communicate with Airbnb guests outside of the platform. Conduct all your transactions on Airbnb to ensure that you have complete support from the company if you run into a squatter problem. If an Airbnb visitor tries to get you to communicate outside of the platform, something isn’t quite right.

    Make a contract with your visitor

    Another action Airbnb investors can take to avoid dealing with Airbnb squatters is to sign a vacation rental agreement. All the terms and circumstances of the stay should be explicitly stated in the agreement. Among other things, it should state check-in and check-out times, payment terms, guests’ conduct expectations, and liability for any damages. This will ensure that the guest understands your expectations and that there are no misunderstandings.

    Be picky about the visitors you accept

    Even if you have a documented contract, you may still have Airbnb squatters who refuse to leave. Even while the contract aids in some ways, it does not provide complete security when dealing with this type of visitor. As a result, you should know how to recognize an Airbnb squatter if you own a vacation rental property. The key is to complete your research before enabling someone else to book the rental. Make sure you check someone’s trustworthiness before renting them out. When authorizing a longer-term stay, this is even more important. There have been reports of Airbnb hosts renting out their space to strangers and afterward regretting it.

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    How to evict an Airbnb Squatter?

    It’s critical to act to protect your Airbnb and keep it within your control. Because many Airbnb squatters strive to establish tenant rights, this can be a lengthy and tough procedure. The following are some actions to take while evicting a squatter:

    Bring a possession or wrongful detainer action

    Squatters who claim to be renters but refuse to leave your Airbnb should be able to use this procedure. If the landlord wishes to take possession, he or she must show that there is no lease or that the contract has expired. This will show that the tenant does not have a legal right to be there.

    Start the eviction procedure

    Essentially, you notify the Airbnb squatter that they do not have the authority to occupy the property and request that they leave. It’s critical to get started right away so you don’t run into any complications with the adverse possession legislation.

    Keep all your paperwork with the squatter

    This will begin to accumulate evidence that you attempted to resolve the matter in a legal and compliant manner. The squatter could use this against you in court if they are hostile or threaten you in any way.

    California laws on Airbnb squatters

    A squatter is a person who lives in an abandoned, vacant or foreclosed building or piece of property. This is done without legal authorization.

    Isn’t that considered trespassing?

    Squatting isn’t always considered trespassing. While trespassing is a crime, squatting is usually considered a civil matter. But, squatting is illegal when a landlord or property owner determines the intruder is unwelcome.

    Keep in mind the following: California

    Squatters or trespassers may make false claims to ownership of the land. They can do this by providing the owner or law enforcement with forged or fake documents or proof. This is against the law. California, however, permits squatters to remain if they offer adequate documentation. Although squatters have rights in general, if they do not meet the criteria for adverse possession, they may face criminal trespass charges.

    In California, it’s Important to Understand Adverse Possession.
    After dwelling on a property for a particular period of time, a squatter might claim ownership. A squatter can establish an adverse possession claim in California after 5 years of continuous use or maintenance.
    When a squatter claims adverse possession, they have the legal right to take control of the property. The squatter now has legal permission to stay on the land and is no longer considered a criminal trespasser.

    Adverse possession claims in the United States must meet five basic requirements. The occupation must be:

    • Hostile – without permission and in violation of the genuine owner’s rights.
    • Actual – exercising authority over real estate.
    • Open & Notorious – occupying the property as if it were the owner’s and not hiding his or her presence.
    • Exclusive – owned by the person who is the exclusive occupant of the real estate.
    • Continuous – remaining and paying property taxes for five years.

    NewYork City laws on Airbnb squatters

    Similar to what you’d find in California After a specified time, a squatter in New York can claim ownership of the property. A squatter can establish an adverse possession claim in New York after ten years of continuous habitat. A squatter can gain the legal title of property by claiming adverse occupancy. They are no longer criminal trespassers and have legal clearance to remain on the property at this stage.

    Keep in mind the following: NYC

    A squatter who has lived on a property for 30 days in New York is immediately elevated to a legal tenant. Landowners must act fast to remove squatters before the 30-day period expires.

    Squatters or trespassers may falsely claim ownership of the land. They can do this by providing law police or property owners with forged documents or deeds. This is always against the law.

    If Squatters do not meet the criteria for adverse possession, they may face criminal trespass charges. Many homeless persons may attempt to use squatter’s rights to obtain property ownership without paying rent or a mortgage.

    Final Thoughts

    Even though short-term rentals can generate decent revenue for Airbnb hosts, they may be vulnerable to Airbnb squatters. Squatter stories are uncommon. To ensure that your Airbnb guests do not overstay their welcome, you should take a few practical precautions. As long as you follow the principles outlined above, you will be able to prevent, recognize, and protect yourself from Airbnb squatters.

    READ MORE: Journey from Airbnb Hosts to Airbnb Millionaires


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