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'Professional scammers' refuse to leave Airbnb host's house

By Chuck Thompson, CNN
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Airbnb guests at a California condo have refused to leave
  • The now-unwanted guests have tenant rights under California law
  • Condo owner's initial appeals to Airbnb met with no success
  • Owner has since hired lawyer and received assistance from Airbnb

(CNN) -- If the old saw about houseguests being like fish is true -- after a few days they begin to stink -- imagine what it must smell like in poor Cory Tschogl's 600-square-foot condo in Palm Springs, California.

Tschogl entered into an agreement through the popular Internet site Airbnb to host a man and his brother for a 44-day period from May 25 through July 8. (Airbnb connects travelers looking for low-cost accommodations with locals who in turn rent them rooms in their homes.)

The man, identified in various reports as Maksym Pashanin and whose Airbnb "verified ID" says he's from Austin, Texas, paid for the first 30 days in advance.

He and his brother moved in, but after 30 days they refused to pay out the balance of their account.

What's more, upon the July end of their rental agreement, they simply refused to leave the condo.

MORE: Pushy guests and porn: Confessions of an Airbnb hostess

Squatters protected under California law

So, if unwanted strangers won't leave, just call authorities and have them booted out, right?

That's where Tschogl's nightmare really begins.

In California, renters who occupy a property for more than 30 consecutive days are considered full-time tenants on a month-to-month lease with rights to occupancy protected under the state's tenant law.

Palm Springs is a popular desert vacation destination. (Condo in dispute not pictured.)
Palm Springs is a popular desert vacation destination. (Condo in dispute not pictured.)

To persuade Pashanin and his brother to leave once the Airbnb reservation contract had expired, Tschogl informed him that she intended to cut off the condo's electricity.

"The guest texted back saying he was legally occupying the condo and that loss of electricity would threaten the work he does at home that brings in $1,000 to $7,000 a day," reported the San Francisco Chronicle.

Pashanin reportedly works as a video game developer. Tschogl says her electricity bills have tripled or even quadrupled since the men moved in.

"The texts threatened to press charges for 'blackmail and damages caused by your negligence and malicious misconduct, including $3,800 PID Espresso machine as well as medical bills for my brother's hospital visit after he got sick here drinking unfiltered tap water,'" reported the Chronicle.

Time to lawyer up

Realizing her legal options were limited, Tschogl contacted Airbnb for help.

According to a Chronicle story on July 19, Tschogl said her numerous email and telephone appeals to Airbnb met with no success.

"I have professional scammers squatting in my condo," an exasperated Tschogl tweeted, while also creating a hashtag #airbnbsquatterswontleave.

Tschogl eventually hired a lawyer and the bizarre story has since gained national attention.

As well as Airbnb's.

According to a July 22 story in USA Today, an Airbnb spokesman says the company now plans to pay Tschogl "the full cost of the reservation and is working with her to provide additional legal support."

Whoever pays, those legal fees may be costly.

Eviction procedures in California can be lengthy and complicated, often taking three to six months to evict a tenant.

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