Airbnb Reaches Deal with San Francisco Over Rental Registrations

On Monday, vacation startup Airbnb reached a deal in a lawsuit brought by the company’s headquarter city of San Francisco which attempts to prevent the short-term rental company website from allowing for housing units that violate city rules which restrict who can list properties and for what length of time.

Critics had complained about Airbnb’s business model, encouraging all landlords to take their more scarce rentals off the market. Supporters, on the other hand, claim they cannot live in the expensive city of San Francisco without the extra money that they make from the rental business. The lawsuit threatened that the company could face fines up to $1,000 for every booking it had completed for any unit that is not officially registered with the city.

The settlement, though, will have residents provide their registration number before they can list their property as an available rental on the website.

San Francisco, CA City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera claims, “This settlement protects our neighborhoods and will help prevent our precious housing stock from being illegally turned into hotels at the expense of evicted or displaced tenants.”
Herrera goes on to say, “There are 2,100 registered hosts and about 8,000 listed. We don’t have exact numbers, but it’s not a secret that there are a lot of folks gaming the system and violating the law.”

Airbnb now says that this deal with the city of San Francisco is just the latest step in its plan to collaborate with local governments on both short-term rental legislation and tax collection. You may be aware that the company has also reached similar agreements in two other cities: Chicago and New Orleans.
Airbnb head of public policy, Chris Lehane, notes, “We want to work with cities as partners. We are appreciative of the work with the San Francisco city attorney’s office.” He continues, noting the new system should be in place by 2018.

Now, this settlement is going to be contingent upon the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approving its specifics. In addition, though, Airbnb also said, some time last week, it will allow for the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to conduct appropriate fair-housing tests on all hosts in the state of California. The agreements states, then, that agents can pose as potential travelers to see if a host does, in fact, comply with antidiscrimination and fair-housing laws.

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