One of the largest apartment landlords in the U.S., Apartment Investment & Management, filed a civil lawsuit against Airbnb, a short-term rental app.

The suit, filed in California and Florida, alleges that Airbnb is encouraging tenants to violate their leases by renting out units on the site, creating unsafe conditions for other tenants, according to an article by Laura Kusisto and Greg Bensinger for The Wall Street Journal.

Conor Wagner, an analyst from Green Street Advisors, a real estate research firm, explained that while this move is unprecedented, other landlords may follow suit in order to gain the cooperation of Airbnb.

However, while AIMCO claims Airbnb actively promotes deliberate breaches of the tenants’ leases, Airbnb insists the claim is “without merit.”

From the article:

AIMCO Chief Executive Terry Considine said in a written statement that Airbnb is helping tenants breach their leases, which prohibit short-term rentals.

“It is not acceptable to us that Airbnb actively promotes and profits from deliberate breaches of our leases, and does so in utter disregard of the disrespectful and unsafe situations created for our full-time residents and their families,” Mr. Considine said.

Airbnb plans to fight the lawsuit, said Nick Papas, a spokesman for the company. “This attack on the middle class by powerful interests is wholly without merit,” he said.

AIMCO is seeking compensation for losses due to property damage, nuisance, and disturbance and asks the courts to forbid Airbnb from listing its units in the future.

But the investment world seems to be divided between those who say Airbnb is destroying the value of their investment, and those who embrace short-term rentals, even at the expense of the long-term rental market. In fact, as more investors and landlords move to list houses and apartments on short-term rental websites, like Airbnb, rather than seek long-term renters, a fight is emerging over the impact this shift has on renters.

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