Airbnb fends off lawsuit over unauthorized subleases

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A federal judge ruled in favor of Airbnb in a lawsuit brought forward by Apartment Investment & Management Co. (Aimco), one of the largest residential landlords in the country, which alleged that the homesharing platform lets tenants effectively break their leases.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee based her decision on the Communications Decency Act (CDA), a law that insulates tech firms from being liable for user-created content.


“Airbnb hosts, not Airbnb, are responsible for providing the actual listing information,” Gee explained in her decision on Dec. 29.

The law has given technology firms cover from other industries who have tried to challenge them legally. United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit, for example, ruled in favor of over allegations that it facilitated prostitution on its site. The court sided with Backpage because of CDA. Other companies have used the law to fight back against claims of user-posted pirated content on their platforms.

Aimco said many of its tenants in its expensive buildings in Los Angeles complained of disruptive tourists staying in illegal Airbnbs.

Airbnb’s terms of service stipulate that a host must “not breach any agreements you have entered into with any third parties, such as homeowners association, condominium, or other agreements.”

Airbnb, which is also fending off a similar suit from Aimco in Florida, welcomed the news.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision that ensures Airbnb can continue to support tenant hosts who use our platform to help pay the bills,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in a statement. “The partnerships we have established with landlords have made it clear that home sharing can be a win-win situation for everyone.”

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