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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Aimco appeals court case against Airbnb over LA apartment rentals

The REIT maintains Airbnb violates short-term rentals uses at its properties
By Dennis Lynch | January 26, 2018 10:30AM

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain Pictures)

Less than a month after losing a court battle to Airbnb over short-term rentals at apartment complexes in Los Angeles, Apartment Investment & Management Co. has filed an appeal.

Aimco, a Denver-based REIT, maintains the home-sharing service is responsible for any tenant lease violations. Its appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California, comes weeks after a district court tossed the investment trust’s suit against Airbnb.

Aimco claims Airbnb violates its policy barring short-term rentals and commercial uses at its properties. Airbnb counters that its business is lawful, because the 1996 Communication Decency Act protects internet platforms from being held liable for the actions of its third-party users. Aimco argues Airbnb itself is breaking the company’s provisions, so federal law does not apply.

District Court Judge Judge Dolly M. Gee sided with Airbnb, and said it is the responsibility of individual Aimco renters — not Airbnb — to follow their leases. Aimco had sued through an LLC tied to the Park La Brea Palazzo complex it owns.

The other three Park La Brea properties involved in the suit are Palazzo West at the Grove, Palazzo East and the Villas at Park La Brea. The last is tied to Lincoln Place Apartment Homes in Venice.

The Ninth Circuit court is typically the end of the line for appeals, although Aimco could appeal its decision to the Supreme Court. Thousands of cases from the Ninth Circuit are filed to the Supreme Court every year, but the latter court usually only agrees to hear up to a dozen of them.

Aimco accused Airbnb of “[turning] the ‘sharing economy’ concept on its head” by using property for its own profit without the owner’s consent. The trust claims Airbnb customers have fought in the hallways at its buildings late at night, disturbed residents, and forced Aimco to hire swimming pool security guards to stop them from drinking, smoking, and “behaving in a disrespectful manner” there.

“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…” said Aimco Executive Vice President of Operations Keith Kimmel.