An Airbnb renter has refused to leave a Los Angeles property – even though her six-month rental expired 18 months ago, a homeowner alleges in a lawsuit. The renter, however, filed a countersuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging the homeowner should pay her back all the money she paid him, and a judge has ruled the homeowner can’t evict the guest.
Sascha Jovanovic, a dentist who put the guest house at his residence in the Crestwood Hills neighborhood on Airbnb in 2019, alleges Elizabeth Hirschhorn has stayed there more than 520 days after her rental agreement ended. He says has rented the guest house in the past, which is part of his primary residence and has also been used by his family, and that it has been rated five stars by Airbnb guests.
In his lawsuit filed in June, Jovanovic alleges Hirschhorn rented the Airbnb from Sept. 13, 2021 to March 19, 2022 and he extended the rental by 24 days for no cost to allow Hirschhorn to find new housing.
Jovanovic says he did not extend the rental agreement beyond April 12, 2022.
After a leak in the guest house, Jovanovic sent mold inspectors to check on the unit on April 13, 2022 – but Hirschhorn refused to let them in, he says. He alleges she continued to refuse the inspection and even called the police, who determined it was a landlord-tenant dispute.
He found himself emailing with Airbnb to try and get Hirschhorn to leave. Airbnb confirmed Hirschhorn’s rental period had ended and that she is violating his rights as host by not leaving the property, he says. The defendant claims he offered Hirschhorn to stay in his main house, but she refused that offer.
He said he was charging her $105 a night and by the time he filed a lawsuit in June 2023, Hirschhorn had owed him $42,840 for the 408 days she had overstayed.
Since that suit has been filed, Hirschhorn has stayed in the guest house another 115 days – and she filed a countersuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court against Jovanovic in September.
Hirschhorn alleges Jovanovic harassed her and tried to intimidate and coerce her into leaving the property. She also alleges the conditions in the unit made her ill, saying there were water leaks and mold growth.
She alleges that Jovanovic began heavy construction outside the guest house, which led to her exposure to fumes and other odors. She also claims he played music all day and night, placed rotting trash at the front door of the guest house, shut off the hot water, padlocked her mailbox, took personal items, and unlawfully entered the unit.
Hirschhorn also alleges Jovanovic turned off the water and HVAC unit and installed a camera above the door of the guest house, claiming a breach of “quiet enjoyment,” a covenant that the landlord will not disturb the tenant. Court documents allege he “knew or should have known that their unlawful conduct caused [her] to suffer loss or encumbrance of a primary residence or assets.”
The countersuit alleges that because Jovanovic did not obtain a certificate of occupancy for the unit from the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, the most he could charge for rent is $0.00.
Because he allegedly retained more than the maximum permitted rent, Hirschhorn says Jovanovic owes her damages and repayment for what she calls “excess rent.” She is asking he pay her back what she paid him – an amount to be determined at trial – as well as her attorney’s fees.
Jovanovic’s suit was dismissed this week and a judge ruled he cannot evict her, according to Colin Walshok, the attorney representing Hirschhorn in the suit filed by Jovanovic. She has other representation for her claim for damages.
Walshok alleges Jovanovic made up false stories and falsified documents. “It was never a 6-month lease,” Walshok said in an email to CBS News, saying that the homeowner agreed to a longer term lease with Hirschhorn, but the deal was not made on the Airbnb platform.
Jovanovic’s attorney Sebastian Rucci said they believe there is no basis for Hirschhorn to get money to leave the property. “We will not negotiate with Elizabeth Hirschhorn. We will not accept any settlement where Sascha has to pay her,” Rucci told CBS News via email.
The attorney said Hirschhorn owes more than $60,000 in rent and called her allegation that she is owed money “absurd.”
“We will evict her, the police will throw her out, she will owe Sascha over $60,000 in back rent, and we will make sure everyone in Los Angeles is aware of her abuse of the system for an improper purpose,” Rucci said.