- An Airbnb landlord said a tenant stopped paying rent and battled to make her leave.
- On Friday, amid an ongoing legal battle, the tenant finally left the property.
- The tenant’s attorney argues the landlord had no right to change the locks after she left.
Aleksandar Jovanovic, a luxury landlord in California fighting a lengthy legal battle to evict an Airbnb “tenant from hell” who he said was staying on his property rent-free since April 2022, is breathing a little easier after this weekend.
Elizabeth Hirschhorn, the guest he has been trying to evict, finally left on November 3 after he says she spent 570 days refusing to pay for her stay at the guest suite on his Brentwood property.
It took 570 days of legal back-and-forth, roughly $60,000 in unpaid rent, and a police escort before Elizabeth Hirschhorn finally left the property on Friday, Sebastian Rucci, an attorney for Jovanovic, told Insider.
But a cryptic email from Hirschhorn’s attorney suggests the situation isn’t over.
“It’s a smear campaign. The headlines are false,” Hirschhorn said in a statement emailed to Insider by her lawyer, Amanda Seaward. “This was never a 6-month Airbnb, we never had an agreed end date of March 19, 2022, I did not refuse to pay rent, I did not demand $100,000 to leave or that any particular amount must be paid by Jovanovic for me to move out. I was advised not to speak out right away to set the record straight. People don’t know that the real story is very very different from what they have been told.”
Before she moved into the Brentwood location, Hirschhorn had been kicked out of a $2.6 million rental in Oakland, California, in July 2021, Insider previously reported.
An unexpected move-out
Jovanovic was home on November 3 when he saw a moving crew taking objects in and out of the guest suite of his Brentwood property, where Hirschhorn had been staying, according to a court filing submitted by Rucci that was reviewed by Insider.
When he asked the crew what they were doing, they refused to answer, per the filing, prompting Jovanovic to call the police over fears that the men could move in alongside his unwelcome guest.
Hirschhorn had some successes in court — including, as Insider previously reported, a judge ruling in her favor, ordering that she could not be evicted because the unit had been improperly listed as a rental due to its lack of a certificate of occupancy or a permit to build a shower.
Despite the ruling in Hirschhorn’s favor preventing her from being evicted, the unit was emptied and returned to its owner the same condition it was in when she first rented the unit in September 2021, per a motion by Jovanovic’s lawyer to dismiss the unlawful detainer complaint.
Jovanovic said police escorted Hirschhorn off the property.
Seward, Hirschhorn’s lawyer, told Insider in an emailed statement Hirschhorn was never escorted from the property, she never refused to pay rent, and instead “decided to go to another location for her personal safety due to extreme harassment by her landlord, including the false stories and false headlines he has been planting in the press about her, his surveillance, and the doxxing of her and her friends, as well as the conditions at the property.”
Within an hour of watching Hirschhorn drive away, per Rucci’s motion to dismiss the eviction suit against Hirschhorn, Jovanovic changed the locks.
A murky legal fight
The trouble started about five months after Hirschhorn moved into the guest suite, per reporting by The Los Angeles Times, when she requested repairs on electric blinds that had stopped working. After Jovanovic went to repair them, the outlet reported he noticed water damage and mold in the bathroom sink that had not been there before her tenancy and wanted to have it remediated.
The Times reported Jovanovic offered to pay for Hirschhorn to stay in a hotel while the repairs were completed, but she declined. He invited her to stay in his guest room, per the outlet, but she refused, citing an allergy to cat dander.
Jovanovic claims Hirschhorn paid for about five months of rent when she initially leased the guest suite at $105 per night, then stopped paying in April 2022 — after she had contacted a housing department investigator, Pedro Gonzalez, alleging she was facing illegal eviction, harassment, and nonpayment of relocation fees.
Hirschhorn had refused to relocate unless Jovanovic paid her $100,000, the Times reported, citing a settlement offer the outlet reviewed. She later counter-sued Jovanovic, per the Times, alleging he “inappropriately invited” her to move into his house.
Hirschhorn also contacted the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, according to the Times. The department identified two code violations in the unit regarding the certificate of occupancy and the shower installation permit.
Hirschhorn’s lawyer told Insider she only went to the housing department after Jovanovic “tried to evict Ms. Hirschhorn on a week’s notice in the middle of March 2022, after she had paid the next month’s rent as agreed, had an extended rental agreement through a year, and after she had paid nearly $24,000 in rent since moving in.”
Jovanovic was ultimately forced to withdraw his eviction notices until he could prove to the city that the unit was in compliance — but he said Hirschhorn wouldn’t let him inside to complete any repairs, Insider previously reported, at least until this weekend, when Hirschhorn left the property for safety reasons, according to her lawyer.
Though he plans to get the necessary permits to rent the unit out again eventually, Jovanovic said in a follow-up Los Angeles Times article that, for now, he’s turning the space into a recreation room for his two kids.
“We need to get the bad energy out and turn it back into a happy, family space,” he told the outlet.
But, after she left, Hirschhorn’s lawyer said in a November 4 email that Jovanovic “jumped the gun” by changing the locks.
“Ms. Hirschhorn had discussed with me concern over the constant harassment and surveillance, and also the desire to get the things repaired that needed to be repaired,” Hirschhorn’s attorney, Seward, wrote in an email to Jovanovic’s lawyer that was reviewed by Insider. “Subject to my discussions with Ms. Hirschhorn, please be advised that you have no authority to change the locks or to assume abandonment of the unit. Further, you have violated the law by entering without permission and changing the locks.”
Jovanovic’s lawyer considers the notion that Hirschhorn would return absurd and told Insider his client intends to follow through with his lawsuit seeking back rent from the woman.
“The statement by her lawyer that she could return is a sign of the venom that the cottage industry of harassers uses to terrorize friendly landlords like Sascha,” Rucci said in an emailed statement to Insider.
He added: “The good news is she did not get a dime in extortion money. There is no basis for Elizabeth Hirschhorn to terrorize Sascha. She secured 570 days of free rent and harassed him to no end. Their many arguments that she had a right to stay in the unit were absurd. You cannot dress those arguments up; it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.”