Airbnb owner Party Death Home sued by Sunnyvale and the state

1447 Navarro Drive, Sunnyvale (Google Maps, Getty)

Sunnyvale and the state sued the owner of an Airbnb rental where two people were shot, killing one, at a party last August.

The lawsuit alleges that Ke Zhou, of Maryland, purchased the house for rent, violating a Sunnyvale law against short-term rentals where the host is not present on the property, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

“It is extremely unlikely that a massive, advertised house party would have occurred at the property in question had the ‘host’ actually been there,” the lawsuit claims, with Zhou showing “complete and repeated disregard for the laws of the city”.

The city and state seek a court order prohibiting Zhou from advertising and operating the house as a short-term rental. They also want the court to force Zhou to relinquish income from the alleged illegal rental of the property and reimburse the city for enforcement costs.

Zhao still advertises the Raynor Park home as a short-term rental, according to the lawsuit, although San Francisco-based Airbnb disabled the listing after the shooting. A person who identified himself as Ke Zhou to Mercury News said, “No comment.”

Up to 200 people flooded the home at 1447 Navarro Drive on August 7, 2021, after it was announced on social media.

Shots killed Elias Elhania, 18, and injured another man. A Sunnyvale resident, then 17, was arrested in December on suspicion of murder and attempted murder.

It was the fourth shooting at an Airbnb party home in Northern California in less than two years, including a Halloween bloodbath in 2019 that killed five people in Orinda.

The shooting death occurred despite Airbnb temporary ban on parties a year earlier after the Orinda tragedy. Banning parties is now part of company policy.

Zhou listed the house on Airbnb from July 2018 to August 2021, according to the lawsuit. He said she violated Sunnyvale’s short-term rental law more than 1,000 times by promoting it as a short-term rental and illegally rented it for 461 days.

She earned at least $81,000 in “ill-gotten proceeds,” according to the suit.

Zhou failed to obtain the necessary permits and approvals to rent the home short-term, and she violated state and city nuisance laws, according to the complaint. City law requires a short-term rental landlord to reside on the property while tenants are present, according to the lawsuit.

His numerous violations impacted neighbors during the nighttime shooting, the lawsuit said, and caused excessive noise, traffic jams and trash.

— Dana Barthelemy

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