San Francisco Considers Ending Ban Renting Homes

April 17, 2014

San Francisco lawmakers are considering making it legal for city residents to rent out their homes on sites such as Airbnb, but only if they have liability insurance and meet other requirements, a newspaper reported.

Supervisor David Chiu introduced legislation Tuesday that seeks to lift a ban on short-term housing rentals, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Other cities, including New York, have similar prohibitions.

New York’s attorney general has demanded that Airbnb turn over data about New York City residents who have put listings on the site as part of an investigation into whether they are breaking a state law barring sublets for fewer than 30 days if the occupants are not present.

On its website, Airbnb warns hosts to be aware of the laws in their city, noting that some restrict people’s ability to host paying guests for short periods.

Tenant groups applauded Chiu’s bill, while advocates for property owners said it does not adequately address their concern that short-term renters could pose a safety and health risk to other tenants.

airbnb logoChiu said San Francisco’s blanket restriction was clearly not working, given that tens of thousands of visitors to the city use sites such as Airbnb.

“We believe a different approach is necessary to create a distinction between reasonable behavior and bad behavior,” he said. “And on the other hand, (we support) the idea that working families, students and residents trying to make rent might be able to slightly supplement their income if they happen to go out of town for a weekend or go on vacation during summer break or visit family during the holidays.”

In multiunit buildings, Chiu’s proposal would only allow short-term rentals at apartments where someone lives 75 percent of the year. The restriction would ban a unit from becoming a full-time vacation rental, the Chronicle reported.

People renting out their places would also have to register with the city every two years. The legislation would not override lease agreements, though it would make it harder for landlords to evict tenants who rent out their units in violation of their lease, the Chronicle reported.

San Francisco-based Airbnb said in a statement that it was reviewing the proposal and looked forward to working with policymakers. Airbnb recently agreed to pay San Francisco’s 14 percent hotel tax, addressing at least one concern of critics who say the company is flouting regulations.

“This legislative proposal acknowledges what our community already knows: San Franciscans should be able to share the home in which they live,” the company said.

Latest Comments

  • April 21, 2014 at 9:45 am
    ExciteBiker says:
    Nanny State? Or government calling a spade a spade? They aren't saying people can't treat their house like a short-term hotel. They are saying that if a homeowner wants to act... read more
  • April 18, 2014 at 4:45 pm
    norkik says:
    most homeowner's insurers don't allow short term rentals under their regular home policy. Homeowners beware you could be non-renewed if doing this. There are short term rent... read more
  • April 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm
    Alan says:
    I was outraged that the city of San Francisco decided that it can regulate how it's residents use their homes (personal residence or periodic rentals); then I saw the part abo... read more
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