When your business and your home life collide, and not in a good way.
They say that anyone who starts a business or even enters into a business arrangement of any kind should do a lot of research. Even a little bit of due diligence typically pays off in the long run, so it’s time well spent.
This is something that Poonam Sandhu, a 33-year-old Watsonville, California resident is wishing she had done.
And unfortunately, the business relationship she entered into was a landlord/tenant relationship. This brought the problem very close to home, literally.
Sandhu rented out her spare room.
This seemed like a sensible thing to do. She had her own home with a spare bedroom and she was looking to bring in some extra cash. Renting out via Airbnb was her reasonable next step.
I’m sure she didn’t think for a moment this could turn out to be the biggest nightmare of her life, thus far.
She eventually took on two tenants, a couple who paid her on time—for a total of two weeks.
Then things started to go sideways.
The couple had a story for her at the beginning of the third week. They told Sandhu they were both waiting for their paychecks and asked her if she would be willing to accept a cash payment. They wanted to give her daily cash payments.
At this point, alarm bells should have gone off for her, but they didn’t. Or if they did, she ignored them.
In an interview with ABC News, she said,
“I trusted in humanity. I had no reason not to trust them.”
That, plus the fact things had gone well with the tenants up to that point, helped her make her decision.
She agreed to take the cash. And in doing so she terminated the agreement between the tenant, herself, and Airbnb. And Airbnb has insurance protections in place to deal with non-paying guests, whether they are long-term or not.
With the Airbnb relationship terminated, she enters into a new relationship with her “guests.” She is now their landlord, and they are now her tenants.
And they weren’t the good tenants they seemed to be at the outset.
For about a month, the couple made sporadic payments.
But by the following month, even that stopped.
And then the nightmare intensified.
The two would have fights in their bedroom, to the point where Sandhu had to call the police multiple times to break them up. They began to use Sandhu’s things, and turned destructive, eventually doing something to the plumbing the led to the water having to be shut off for three days.
They ate her food.
Things progressed to the point where she installed eight security cameras in her home.
She asked them to leave but they refused to go, even though she offered to put them up in a hotel. She finally hired a lawyer and had them served with an eviction notice, but that was ignored.
They crept around the house at night, peeking into her things.
When speaking with CBS San Francisco, she said,
“It’s essentially like watching burglars in your house, constantly waiting for them to pick up the next item.”
Despite all this, the law was on their side.
Attorney Leo B. Siegel told ABC News:
“Once someone’s been inside your house for more than 30 days, they’re considered a tenant. They’re entitled to 30 days’ notice before you can even file the lawsuit.”
In the end, Sandhu paid them $1700.50 to get them to leave. And they accepted it. Despite the cost, she was happy to see them go. Of the experience, she says it was,
“…the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
There is a lesson for everyone here.
It turns out this couple has three other eviction judgments against them in the same area. So they know what they are doing, and have no problem gaming the system.
If Sandhu had done a bit of the due diligence I mentioned at the outset, this never would have happened. She shares,
“All these things I’m learning the hard way. … I know a lot better now.”
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