Can I avoid California tenancy laws by breaking guests' stay in half?

We’re new hosts, and got an offer from someone with no Airbnb history to stay for 42 days. They say their home is in escrow. We told her she can only stay 21 consecutive days maximum, which she booked. The guests have been perfectly pleasant so far. We told them we can give them another 19 days IF they leave for two days after the first three weeks, and they’re willing to do that.

I wanted to check–would that help them avoid getting tenants’ rights in California? It’s only established after 30 consecutive days, right, not 30 days within a specific time period? We plan to go in and clean up the house during the two days they’re gone (and charge a new cleaning fee for the second stay).

Thanks for your expertise!

Also, I should note that I was the one who suggested this idea, not the guest, in case that makes a difference.

No… splitting it in half will not protect you. Why don’t you have them sign a standard lease For the remaining days?

We’re not that familiar with standard leases
On an Airbnb, so we didn’t really consider it.

We’re thinking about just letting them stay 28 days but making clear there will be no extensions. That should keep us in the clear, right? As long as we say absolutely no extensions. Even if they refused to leave we should protected since they’re not spying for 30 days.

They’re only our second-ever guests so it’s a tricky one to have upfront!

Welll I wouldn’t rent to anyone past 21 days. But if you insist on doing it… get it in writing.

In today’s litigious society, always follow the golden rule: get it in writing.

A contract that defines the length and terms of a professional relationship protects you in the event that one or both parties violates the agreement.
A contract excepting your Airbnb renter from California’s 30-day sublease qualification clause could prevent a host of legal woes and would stand up in court.

And, of course, always consult an attorney to ensure your contracts are valid and enforceable by law.

Airbnb may be a multi billion dollar company but you will not be protected by them or anyone if your guest decides to overstay. A judge will not recognize two separate tenancies if you think that splitting it up will offer you any protection from a renter claiming tenants rights. it is NOT a good platform for long term rentals.

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Hi Kona, thanks to your post we’re abandoning the “split in half” idea. Could you explain the difference between renting for 21 and 28 days? My understanding is that even if the guest refused to leave, we’re protected because they didn’t actually pay for 30 days (so it’d be the same as if they refused to leave the house after 21 days–we’d still call the cops because they haven’t established tenancy). Unless I’m misunderstanding something?

You can call the cops for a tenancy issue? Really?

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Deb, I don’t know if the cops will actually come out and help, but as long as they don’t pay for 30 days, they can’t establish tenants’ rights, so if they won’t leave they’re trespassing. So I’d at least try and call the cops to get their help.

If they pay for 30 days they’re officially tenants and you have to go through formal eviction processes and the cops won’t touch that until it’s all done (I think).

No… cops will not intervene in civil matters. This would be considered a civil dispute. If you had a burglar or a peeping tom, or criminal trespass, that could be considered something criminal and the cops would intervene. You have given the guests permission to be there. If they start acting up, or decide not to pay, the cops won’t adjudicate that. Air is on the other end of the phone line, sympathetic but worthless to help you. So it’s up to YOU to remove them. Furthermore, The guests might be able to claim residency to the cops if they can show they live there. For instance… do they have a lot of belongings? Are they receiving mail at your address? You can see how tricky this can get.

You should do a search on this forum where we have discussed, ad infitum, the non merits of using Air for long term guests. It’s really not suited to that kind of situation.

We mentored a host who came to this forum and was in world of hurt because her guest overstayed. At the second month mark, Air charged her card, and bang, declined. At that point the guest was already dug in. The host had to start a standard eviction proceeding. The attorneys advised her that she couldn’t do anything to lock the guest out or even turn off her internet or anything. The guest was now a tenant and entitled to due process through the courts.

During the course of this nightmare, the guest took over, and called the cops on the HOST! Threatened TROs on the host, and if granted, would have barred the host from her own home while the guest stayed free for months. It was thousands and thousands to get this parasite out.

Oh 21 days is just safer than 28… 28 is just cutting it too close to 30.

I dunno. You can take the chance… but after personal experience with someone who lived this nightmare, i ask is a few extra days of payouts worth it?

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What a fantastic post @konacoconutz. Advice well worth heeding for those hosting in the U.S.

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Sign a standard month to month lease with your tenants. Airbnb is not the platform for long term rentals. Escrow does not always close on time. You can find standard leases online.


Here’s a super interesting Reddit thread asking about Florida.

Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Don’t let them use your address.