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A Washington state homeowner says he is stuck living in his van after his tenant stopped paying rent on his home and illegally rented his house out on Airbnb.

Jason Roth told Insider his tenant owes him $50,000 in unpaid rent from the past nine months. After he rented out his home to pay for pilot school, his tenant, Kareem Hunter allegedly only paid part of the first month’s rent before he stopped paying at all and began illegally renting out rooms in the house on Airbnb.

“I need my house. And all the media and other attention is great, but it doesn’t really do me any good,” Roth told the outlet. “Like, I need to get my house back. I need to get on with my life. I need to stop living in my van.”

In March of this year, when Hunter moved in, Roth moved to a separate apartment. They agreed upon $4,300 in monthly rent, according to documents filed by Roth in Kings County Superior Court. Roth says that after Hunter stopped paying rent, he tried to negotiate a payment plan. However, Hunter still didn’t pay, instead listing rooms on the property for rent without paying down his debt.

After a while, costs became too high and Roth was forced to move out of the rented apartment and into his van.

“So, not only is he not paying me, but he’s generating an income through the basement Airbnb unit, and meanwhile, I’m having to pay the utilities for that unit,” Roth told the local news outlet Kiro 7.

In a court filing, Roth, an aircraft mechanic’s apprentice who purchased his Seattle home in 2016, said Hunter owed him $47,248, a figure that included $33,400 in back rent as well as utilities and late fees.

Hunter, however, claims that Roth had refused to accept payment of past due rent, saying that Roth always intended to take him to court to collect “eviction insurance” and that he had demanded Hunter pay him $40,000 to allow him to break the lease. Hunter also claims Roth knew he would rent out rooms on the property.

Roth, however, told Insider he holds no insurance policy.

Court documents do show, though, that Hunter told Roth in an email in July that he wanted to pay his outstanding rent. Hunter also said at the time that he did not want to go to court to avoid having an eviction on his record.

Records show Roth’s lawyer and Hunter tried to negotiate a payment plan but could not agree on a payment structure. A copy of Hunter’s lease filed into the court shows subleasing the property through Airbnb or other short-term rental sites was allowed as long as Hunter didn’t claim to be a representative or employee of the property owner, according to Insider. 

The monthlong battle between owner and tenant is now in court, and Roth is raising money for his legal fees on GoFundMe.

Email Ben Verde

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