Media exec rents home for $1.8 million to musician who turned it into Airbnb

By Martha Williams for Dailymail.Com

05:55 May 24, 2024, updated 2:11 PM May 24, 2024



A Netflix executive made the mistake of renting her $1.8 million Los Angeles home to a musician who then illegally turned it into an Airbnb and stopped paying the rent.

Nikeeta Sriram, 31, works as a commercial strategy and growth product manager at Netflix and graduated from Harvard Business School a few years ago.

She moved to Los Angeles to take the job in 2021, and took advantage of low home prices during the pandemic in 2022 by purchasing a home in the desirable Mid-Wilshire area for $1.675 million. It is now worth more than $1.8 million.

However, Sriram was already locked into a lease at the time and decided to rent out her new place until she was ready to move in, she told the LA Times.

The homeowner says she is now embroiled in an endless ordeal with her nightmare tenant, a touring musician who currently sings in British pubs. She says he turned the rental into a money-making Airbnb scheme that has raked in more than $215,000, while recently refusing to pay her rent.

Nikeeta Sriram, 31, works as a commerce strategy and growth product manager at Netflix and graduated from Harvard Business School a few years ago
Nicholas Jarzabek, better known to his fans as Nick Driver, is a touring musician who currently sings in British pubs (photo)

Nicholas Jarzabek, better known to his fans as Nick Driver, was initially rejected when he applied to rent Sriram’s property because she opted for another set of men working for a start-up.

However, when the company went bankrupt in August 2022, the couple moved and Sriram started looking for a tenant again. Jarzabek applied again – and Sriram recognized the name from his first offer to lease the property.

‘I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I thought he just really liked the house,” Sriram told The LA Times.

“But in hindsight, of course, it’s suspicious,” she said. “Most tenants are trying to move on a certain timeline, and you don’t see people applying for the same property three months apart.”

At first glance, Jarzabek came across as a reliable renter — with $1 million in the bank, a white Tesla and a shiny Rolex on his wrist.

“He talked nicely about the house and offered to put down carpets so he wouldn’t scratch the floors,” Sriram said. “He said he would treat it like it was his own.”

And he treated it as if it were his own. It quickly became clear that Jarzabek had set his sights on Sriram’s home because it was the perfect candidate for a successful Airbnb.

Nicholas Jarzabek, better known to his fans as Nick Driver, allegedly turned the Los Angeles house he was renting into an Airbnb and pocketed the revenue from the advertisements

The building had two homes, which meant two Airbnbs for the price of one. There was a main house with two floors and three bedrooms and a rear house with one bedroom and an attic.

After the house tour, Sriram never saw Jarzabek again, but she claims he eventually became a very prominent pest in her daily life.

Jarzabek caused few problems in the first year of his loan spell. He paid the $8,500 rent every month and demanded no repairs.

“He seemed like a very responsible tenant, but now I know it’s because he never wanted me to come to the property,” Sriram said.

However, sixteen months later, Jarzabek’s Airbnb listings of the property became public on December 29, 2023, when the ADT alarm was triggered so many times in succession that police were automatically called to the property.

Sriram called ADT and they told her that police had informed them that Airbnb guests had activated the alarm.

At first, Sriram and her boyfriend, actor Peter Banachowski, thought there was a mix-up, but when she checked Airbnb, she saw that her property was being listed.

The main house was listed for $688 per night, while the back house was priced at $496 per night, according to Airbnb listings in the eviction case she later filed.

It was listed on Airbnb under an account named Rich Jacobs — although it’s unclear whether that name is an alias or if Jarzabek contacted someone to act as a “host” for the property on his behalf.

The host disguised the house to keep it hidden from Sriram, primarily by not using any photos of the exterior. He only uploaded a photo of the nearby Grove shopping center, followed by photos of the interior of the house.

Then by giving Airbnb users a fake address and initially telling them the property was located at 1830 S. La Brea Ave, which is actually the address of a motel called the Starlight Inn, which is a mile from the house .

The houses did well on Airbnb: the larger house earned 4.76 out of five stars and the guest house 4.46.

However, written reviews of the home raised concerns. ‘Easy to find once the correct address was found, Air BNB listed a different address then [was sent] by the owner,” said one tenant.

“The host took a very nasty and aggressive tone towards us when we had trouble learning how to cancel on your website,” said another guest

After Sriram learned of Jarzabek’s plan, she tried to confront her tenant by phone. He told her to contact his lawyer.

At first glance, Jarzabek came across as a reliable renter – with $1 million in the bank, a white Tesla and a shiny Rolex

Sriram took matters into her own hands and devised a plan to confront him personally by renting out the Airbnb to herself so she could communicate with him via the website’s chat function.

‘STOP RE-LISTING THIS PROPERTY. You are not authorized to sublet this property!’ she wrote.

As the drama continued and the homes were taken off Airbnb and then re-listed, Sriram filed an eviction in LA Superior Court. In April, she filed a cease and desist order with Jarzabek’s lawyer.

But while Sriram struggles to navigate the complex laws of property rights, her home is still rented out through Airbnb.

Airbnb didn’t offer Sriram any help, so she once again took matters into her own hands by showing up at the property when there seemed to be bookings (information she collected directly from the website).

She explained the situation to the guests, who were mostly understanding, but of course frustrated by the situation.

‘I felt terrible. I didn’t want to ruin their holiday,” Sriram said. “But this is our only story as Airbnb has not offered us any assistance.”

As part of her deportation proceedings, Sriram has subpoenaed Airbnb for information about Jarzabek. She discovered that even though he was communicating with her using the New York area code, the number registered to his Airbnb account had a +44 code, the area code of Great Britain.

Through the subpoena, she also gained insight into his profits and discovered that the listing generated $215,954 in payouts during sixteen months of his Airbnb tenure, an average of about $14,500 per month.

“If the city fails to crack down on Airbnb, it should err on the side of caution and ban the platform until it can build a task force to manage it,” Sriram said. “The current solution is to let the chaos unfold and see what happens.”

After months of battling legal battles, Sriram recently finally received approval for her unlawful arrest case – allowing her to move forward with deporting Jarzabek.

This can only be done by a sheriff, and the LA County Sheriff’s Department is currently assisted with eviction requests and has a three-month waiting period.

Sriram and Banachowski could sue Jarzabek for damages, as the homeowners estimate she has lost $100,000 since the start of the year, but suing someone in another country is a complex and expensive process.

‘Nick Diver’, as Jarzabek is known in the music world, has around 6,000 followers on Instagram and 785 followers on the popular music streaming platform Spotify

“His Instagram shows him touring pubs all over the UK,” Banachowski said. “I understand why we have eviction protection for people in LA, but why is it illegal for us to get our house back from someone who isn’t even in the country?”

‘Nick Diver’, as Jarzabek is known in the music world, has around 6,000 followers on Instagram and 785 followers on the popular music streaming platform Spotify.

His most recent album, Black Liquorice, was released in 2023 and features a song ironically titled “Life of Crime,” as well as other songs including “Terrifying Me” and “I Pretend to Know Too Much.”

Jarzabeck’s recent Instagram posts show him wandering around London and Paris – all the while continuing to rent out Sriram’s house on Airbnb and ghosting her attempts at communication.

DailyMail.com reached out to Jarzabek for comment on his social media but has not yet heard from the musician.

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