What does Airbnb do?
Airbnb, short for "Air Bed and Breakfast," is a company that enables property owners to rent out their spaces to folks looking for a place to stay. These folks are called "guests" and they can rent a room or an entire accommodation to themselves.
If you had a difficult or challenging experience with an Airbnb rental, you're not alone. Airbnb has faced many lawsuits from guests. It could be you got hurt on the property, or maybe the rental was not as promised. Whatever the case, Airbnb has come under scrutiny for having fewer regulations and rules than traditional hotels. This article will explain how you can file a small claims case against them if you believe you have a case.
Introduction to suing Airbnb in Small Claims Court
In small claims court, Airbnb can be sued for $10,000 in their home state of California. However, since they operate in every state, they can be sued locally for as much as $20,000 based on the small claims limit in that state.
Guests have sued AirBnb for:
- Failure to Refund
- Unexpected Charges
- Last Minute Reservation Cancellations
- Unsafe Accommodations
The first step of suing Airbnb in Small Claims Court
The first and most important thing to do when suing Airbnb is to make sure that you sue the right legal entity. By suing the wrong company, you can have your case dismissed, and you'll have to file another small claims lawsuit.
For most cases, the legal name of Airbnb is Airbnb, Inc. but be sure to double-check!
Finding Airbnb's Registered Agent
The registered agent of Airbnb in the state of incorporation is:
CSC- Lawyers Incorporating Service
2710 Gateway Oaks Drive, Suite 150N
Sacramento, CA 95833
If you’re suing Airbnb in another state, then you might need to name a different registered agent. That said, you can always send a demand letter to CSC - Lawyers Incorporating Service in California, no matter what state you're filing in.
Write a Demand Letter to Airbnb
- On the top, in the address block, put in the company name and address: Airbnb - 888 Brannan St. #4 San Francisco, CA 94103
- Next, put the subject line as 'Re: Demand for Payment
- In one sentence, tell them how much Airbnb owes you.
- Then, in two to three sentences, describe your issue. (ex: why you are owed money)
- Finally, write in plain language that you will go to small claims court if necessary. Don't say you will do anything else, such as speaking poorly about them.
- On the bottom, include your name and address
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How to send a demand letter to Airbnb
After you write the demand letter to Airbnb, you'll want to send it to their registered agent so that it's guaranteed to go to the legal department. Ensure you get a tracking number to prove you sent the letter. It can become important evidence in your case.
File your small claims forms against Airbnb
You’ll need to find and prepare your small claims forms based on where you decide to sue. Usually, people sue where the defendant lives or does business.
Then, look up your county's small claims system wherever you decide to sue. They can provide details on their website about what small claims forms are necessary. You can read more about the small claims process here.
Serve your small claims paperwork to Airbnb
After filing but before your hearing, one of the last steps will be to give the small claims paperwork to Airbnb's registered agent. To keep your court date, you should hire a professional process server or your local sheriff to ensure all legal guidelines are appropriately followed.
Go to your small claims trial against Airbnb
On your small claims trial date, be sure to arrive early and well prepared. Bring at least three copies of all evidence you intend to present, and if your hearing is remote, be sure to have provided copies in advance to the other party and the court. Failure to follow the local guidelines can result in your case being dismissed, but if you've followed the rules, you can often win by default when the other party doesn't show up.