A tenant who has grabbed headlines for squatting in a Los Angeles Airbnb for a year and a half without paying rent also squatted in an Oakland home in 2019.
In 2021, a month after leaving a Rockridge sublet after refusing to pay rent for a year, Elizabeth Hirschhorn rented an Airbnb for six months from a periodontist in Los Angeles’ tony Brentwood neighborhood, the Los Angeles Times reported last week. But after her stay was up, she refused to move. Hirschhorn hasn’t paid rent in the more than 540 days since, using a legal loophole as justification, the Times reported.
Her attorney, Colin Walshok, told the Times that Hirschhorn isn’t required to pay rent because “the city had never approved the unit for occupancy and that its shower was constructed without a permit.” The city has found that because of the code violations, the landlord, Sascha Jovanovic, cannot evict Hirschhorn.
The two parties are now suing each other in court. Hirschhorn has demanded $100,000 from Jovanovic to leave the guesthouse. Jovanovic’s lawyer called her the “tenant from Hell.”
“I tried to be a kind host,” Jovanovic told the Times. “I had no idea she would become what she has become.”
Hirschhorn hasn’t spoken with the media, but Walshok, told the Times that Jovanovic “broke the law and tried to make money by renting out an illegal bootleg unit” and has “as resorted to bullying, harassment and the filing of frivolous lawsuits containing elaborate false stories, all in attempt to cover his tracks.”
This isn’t the first time that Hirschhorn has gotten embroiled in a legal dispute with a landlord. Alameda County Superior Court documents show that just before moving into Jovanovic’s Airbnb, she also sublet a room in an Oakland home in fall 2019, and then allegedly refused to move out, despite the original tenant leaving due to a “hostile environment” and Hirschhorn’s “excessive demands.” The story was first reported by the Daily Mail.
The case bears a striking resemblance to the legal battle between Hirschhorn and Jovanovic in Los Angeles: She also squatted in the Oakland two-bedroom cottage rent-free for over a year, and cited COVID regulations and health concerns when she refused to move out. When the landlords attempted to evict her, she filed a countersuit, claiming that their actions had caused her to suffer.
According to a complaint filed by landlords Brian and Gordon Bishop in 2020, Hirschhorn began subleasing the room at 377 63rd Street from tenant Alex Lewin during fall 2019, but didn’t sign any rental agreement.
In November 2019, the homeowner sprayed an undisclosed “harmful substance” around the house, her countersuit alleges.
She asked Lewin to clean the home “in a specific manner due to her hypersensititvity to allergens,” the Bishops’ suit alleges. Lewin hired professional cleaners and made “multiple attempts” to follow Hirschhorn’s cleaning instructions.
In her countersuit, Hirschhorn denies that, saying that the home was not cleaned. She left in December 2019, staying in hotels, but returned in February 2020 and found that Lewin’s house cleaning was still “insufficient.”
In March 2020, Lewin left, citing the dispute with Hirschhorn. Meanwhile, she stayed put, despite being pressured to vacate the premises, she alleges in her countersuit. She claims that the landlords violated the Oakland Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance, the city of Oakland’s tenant protection law.
The case was settled on July 20, 2021, about a month before Hirschhorn moved into Jovanovic’s Brentwood guesthouse, where she has been for the last year and a half. Neither Hirschhorn, Lewin, or Bishop and his attorney responded to requests for comments.
Hirschhorn, a Harvard graduate, has been involved in multiple lawsuits. The Daily Mail also found that Hirschhorn was sued by American Express in February 2021 for unpaid credit card bills totaling $19,617.82. Hirschhorn countersued, claiming that American Express had not reimbursed her for a series of fraudulent charges made by a relocation company.
The Daily Mail also reported that in 2019, Hirschhorn filed a lawsuit against married couple Jacqueline McMahon and Timothy Hayes over a car accident that had occurred two years earlier, seeking damages over $25,000.