A Pennsylvania man is taking legal action against Airbnb who he says is responsible for over $100,000 of damages and lost income caused by a squatter on his property.
Joseph Foresta, a landlord in South Philadelphia, alleges in a lawsuit filed in late March that he rented out his residence through Airbnb to an individual who squatted for three months and did significant damage to the property, the Pennsylvania Record reported.
Foresta claims that he listed his property, located at 1514 Christian Street, and believed that Airbnb “thoroughly vetted” prospective guests and “led plaintiff to believe it was responsible for the safety of the host’s property from any damage caused by the guest to the host’s property, and it would be responsible for any over stay of the guests beyond the time reserved and paid for by the guest.”
According to the lawsuit, an individual named Lawrence H. Jackson made a reservation for a one night stay on June 13, 2020, and Airbnb collected the rent for the one night stay.
Joseph Foresta says Airbnb is liable for damages caused by a squatter at a property on Christian St. in Philadelphia (Google Earth)
On June 14, the suit claims that Jackson refused to leave the property and stayed there until Foresta was able to obtain a court order for police to remove him on September 9, 2020.
Jackson is alleged to have changed the locks, rented out the other two apartments to “four to six people per apartment” and collected rent from those individuals.
An aerial view of Ben Franklin Bridge and Philadelphia from Cooper Point, Camden New Jersey. (Photo by: Visions of America/Joseph Sohm/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
“Jackson and the occupants that Jackson allowed to live in the property did extensive damage to the interior and exterior of the property, including but not limited to, damaging the furniture and piling up to five feet of trash on the sidewalk outside the front and back of the property, defacing the exterior walls, breaking the doors and windows, breaking the water pipes, breaking the appliances, breaking the bathroom fixtures, breaking the banister on the stairs, breaking the fire alarms, damaging the walls and floors and breaking the patio railing.” the suit alleges.
Additionally, Foresta says he was “physically attacked” when he tried to access the property, and one of the occupants struck him with a baseball bat in his head and stomach and “threatened to kill him” if he returned to his South Philadelphia property.
Foresta claims his calls to Airbnb as the crisis was unfolding were not returned, and letters from his legal counsel were not answered.
The Philadelphia Energy Solutions oil refinery seen in front of the Philadelphia skyline. (REUTERS)
“It was not until August 2020 that defendant Airbnb finally ‘acknowledged’ the communications, but did nothing to remove Jackson from the property or to address the damage done to the property,” the lawsuit claims.
The suit claims the damage to the property was so extensive that it took Foresta until December 2021 to make the repairs needed to make it rentable again.
Foresta is seeking $170,000 in loss rental income and repair costs, plus interest, attorney’s fees and other costs incurred by the squatting, which has become an increasingly significant problem across the United States in recent years.
A spokesperson for Airbnb told Fox News Digital the company does not comment on pending litigation but said that Foresta has been banned from hosting on Airbnb since July 2020 “due to frequent violations of our community standards and policies.”