San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved tough new legislation that will require short-term rental sites to police their own listings for properties that violate city regulations.
San Francisco is rolling out new legislation aimed at reigning in AirBnB rentals. This week, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted 10-0 to toughen short-term rental laws with provisions similar to those Los Angeles is also considering.
Following the election of Aaron Peskin, who campaigned on housing affordability, the board decided it needed to crack down harder on short-term rental regulations. Advocates for stricter policies argue property owners are removing viable rental and affordable housing units from the marketplace and offering them as short term rentals on AirBnB and other sites because they are able to inflate the price. The problem only compounds for renters who face skyrocketing rental rates due to low inventory.
Last November, San Franciscans voted against a measure that would have put severe restrictions on AirBnB-style short-term rentals. If Prop F had passed, it would have limited the number of nights a unit could be rented each year to 75 nights max, among other reporting requirements. The current law caps short-term rentals at 90 days per year if the owners are not present, and an unlimited amount of time if they are present during a visitor’s stay.
San Francisco already requires an AirBnB host to register their rental unit with the city, however that has been difficult to enforce. The city can now require that short-term rental sites take responsibility for noncompliant listings. Under the new law approved by the Board of Supervisors, listings on short-term rental sites must include an official registration number that shows the property has been approved and registered with the city. Sites that don’t comply could face fines of up to $1,000 daily for each listing violation. San Francisco’s Office of Short-Term Rentals will monitor hosting platforms like AirBnB on a monthly basis to identify those that violate the registration requirement. Sites will have one business day to respond and deactivate noncompliant listings or face penalties.
AirBnB and their supporters hope to fight back against the new requirements. AirBnB advocates argue that homeowners have relied on the income from short-term rentals to avoid foreclosure or eviction. The company has declined to say whether it will comply with the new law, arguing that it is merely a platform that connects renters and hosts, and that it’s not responsible for hosts that don’t comply with the local law.
According to Kevin Guy, director of the Office of Short-Term Rentals, the department has received 1,868 applications for short-term rentals since the office was created last year. It has issued 1,324 short-term rental certificates, rejected 463 applications or asked for more information, and 180 listings still remain under investigation. However, that is only a fraction of the estimated 5,000-10,000 AirBnB listings in San Francisco.