With the vast majority of the San Francisco properties listed on Airbnb still not registered with the City as required by law, a new piece of legislation could require Airbnb to remove up to 75 percent of their estimated 9,500 listings in San Francisco or face penalties that could theoretically total over $5 million a day.
As drafted by Supervisor Campos and now co-sponsored by Supervisors Avalos, Mar and Peskin, the proposed Short-Term Residential Rentals and Hosting Platforms ordinance amendment would require that all ‘Hosting Platforms’ (such as Airbnb, Homeaway/VRBO and FlipKey) verify that every unit offered in San Francisco has been registered with the City prior to its listing and would mandate that Platforms respond to demands from the City for information regarding the compliance of any listing within one business day.
In addition, the ordinance would extend the potential civil, administrative, and criminal penalties that exist for individuals that violate the City’s short-term rental laws to Hosting Platforms. As such, a platform could face penalties of up to $1,000 per day for every instance in which it either (1) fails to inform a host of the City’s registration law, (2) fails to collect or pay taxes on a stay, (3) allows an unregistered unit to be listed, or (4) fails to respond to the City’s demand for information to verify a units compliance with the law.
The legislation, which is working its way through the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee, would not apply to sites such as Craigslist which do not act as intermediaries. Any penalties collected would be deposited in the City’s Housing Trust Fund for use by the City’s Small Sites Program.
And if adopted, the amended law would become effective 30 days after enactment.
UPDATE (6/7): The proposed legislation was approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors 10-0 with Supervisor Farrell recused from the vote.