In 2008, SF Weekly reported that there were between 20 and 100 serial evictees operating in San Francisco—bouncing from home to home without ever paying a dime.
The sharing economy has provided new opportunities for grifters to game the system. So-called Airbnb squatters—like the pair of brothers who refused to leave a Palm Springs condo in the summer of 2014 after paying only one month’s rent—have become more common. It’s enough of an issue that Airbnb now has a page devoted to the topic; it warns that local laws may allow long-term guests to establish tenants’ rights.
“I’m always amazed at how many risks people take with their home,” says Leah Simon-Weisberg, the legal director at a Bay Area tenants’ rights organization and a commissioner on Berkeley’s rent board. “You let these total strangers in, you know nothing about their credit, you’ve never met them before, and you let them into your home with your stuff. I mean, it just kind of blows my mind.”