The Moneyist: ‘Perhaps a little pain would help.’ My ex-husband won’t leave our home and rents rooms on Airbnb — should I stop him?

The Moneyist: ‘Perhaps a little pain would help.’ My ex-husband won’t leave our home and rents rooms on Airbnb — should I stop him?

19 Jan    Finance News

Dear Moneyist,

I have been legally divorced for more than a year, but have yet to finalize the property settlement on our primary residence. My ex-husband continues to reside on our property and earns money through Airbnb by renting out rooms.

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I do not receive any compensation for the use of our joint property. Needless to say, he feels no urgency to settle and continues to find ways to prolong the process. I wonder what my rights are for the commercial use of this land.

Can I request that he refrains from doing this until our property is settled? Once he buys me out, the property will be solely in his name and he can use it however he sees fit. Until then, perhaps a little pain would help increase his desire to resolve this with more haste.

Impatient in California

Dear Impatient,

A little pain would help. A little pain might also turn into a lot of pain for you and your ex-husband, if he decides to dig in his heels. He lives there — and even though you own this property together, it could be a long and expensive legal process to force him to sell up if he is, as you suggest, contrary. In fact, you may prolong this ordeal if he believes you’re trying to make life difficult for him.

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As long as it’s legal to rent out rooms on Airbnb in your city and state, and he is reporting the income to the Internal Revenue Service, there’s no reason he shouldn’t earn a little cash on the side. If he is doing this illegally, it’s worth a phone call to your attorney to make sure that you would not be liable for any fines. Given that he is pocketing the money, that seems unlikely.

Several cities in California are cracking down on Airbnb. In Los Angeles, for instance, a host may not rent out a room in their home for more than 120 days in any calendar year, and must register with the city’s planning department and pay a fee. In San Francisco, hosts may not rent an entire home for more than 90 days in any calendar year, but can rent out a room for any length of time.

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My gut feeling tells me to avoid trying to dish out any pain — a little or otherwise — and resist spending time looking up the listing online or obsessing about what he’s doing while he lives there. If you are engaging with him in that way, you might as well still be in the relationship.

Talk to your divorce attorney about speeding the plow on the sale of this property. Ultimately, you want to move on with your life and leave this chapter behind.

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