San Francisco - In a gentrifying neighbourhood of San Francisco, a couple exit their cab and head toward an apartment, rolling suitcases behind them. Unbeknownst to them, a private investigator by the name of Michael Joffe sits in his parked car just across the street, discreetly snapping pictures.
This is not a divorce case waiting to happen or an international spy caper. Nothing that salacious or mysterious. It is instead an episode that provides a window into how bitter the feud between struggling tenants and home-sharing websites like Airbnb Inc. has become. Joffe works for a tenant lawyer, who in turns represents a family that was evicted from their apartment - the one that the couple was entering that day.
The goal of the stakeout was to uncover, and document, smoking-gun proof that the landlord is violating city ordinances limiting the use of private homes for short-term rentals. It’s very lucrative work nowadays in San Francisco, the city that’s come to represent America’s shortage of affordable housing.