On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors passed a new law by a vote of 10-0 requiring Airbnb and other short-term rental hosting platforms to confirm their hosts have registered with the City and County of San Francisco before allowing any listings on their respective sites. According to the City, only around a quarter of hosts listing rentals on Airbnb are registered. If Airbnb and other short term rental companies mount a legal challenge to this new legislation, litigation could drag on for years. If, however, the law is not challenged, it goes into effect on July 27, 2016.
What does this mean for San Francisco tenants? In the short term, not much, especially if Airbnb and short-term rental hosting platforms challenge the law and delay implementation. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, over 5,459 San Francisco listings appeared on Airbnb in 2015, a 13.8 increase over 2014. This legislation will be of no benefit to San Francisco tenants already displaced by landlords in the short-term rental business. If the legislation is not challenged, it may benefit tenants in the long term by making it more difficult for landlords to list properties on Airbnb and potentially encourage a return to traditional long-term tenancies. Of course, it may also ultimately have no significant long-term impact on tenants whatsoever — the economic benefits for landlords of the short-term rental business are simply too great and still probably worth the trouble of registering with the City and County of San Francisco.
While the current law regulating Airbnb and other short term rentals allows tenants to list their rental units on Airbnb, tenants who do so without their landlords’ permission may face eviction for breaching a lease’s prohibition against subletting or creating a substantial interference with the comfort, safety, or enjoyment of their landlord or other tenants in the building. Listing a unit on Airbnb or another short-term rental housing platform is rarely a good idea for tenants, but interested tenants should always consult with a tenant attorney before doing so to ensure tenants are not breaching their lease and creating potential circumstances for eviction. For more information, the San Francisco Business Portal’s website has created a Short-Term Residential Rental Starter Kit with details on current requirements for short-term rentals.
The full text of the San Francisco Chronicle’s June 12, 2016 article on this new legislation is available here.