The legislation which 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, has been approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors 10-0 with Supervisor Farrell recused from the vote.
The Short-Term Residential Rentals and Hosting Platforms amendment requires that all Hosting Platforms, such as Airbnb, Homeaway/VRBO and FlipKey, verify that every unit offered for rent in San Francisco has been registered with the City prior to its listing, mandates that Platforms respond to demands from the City for information regarding the compliance of any listing within one business day, and extends the potential civil, administrative, and criminal penalties that exist for individuals that violate the City’s short-term rental laws to Platforms which could face penalties of up to $1,000 per day for every instance in which they either (1) fail to inform a host of the City’s registration law, (2) fail to collect or pay taxes on a stay, (3) allow an unregistered unit to be listed, or (4) fail to respond to the City’s demand for information to verify a units compliance with the law.
The legislation will not apply to sites such as Craigslist which do not act as intermediaries, a key distinction to provide cover with respect to the threat of a legal challenge based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).
Assuming the legislation survives a second vote next week, it will then be sent to the Mayor to sign or ignore. The amended law will become effective 30 days after the Mayor returns the signed ordinance or if ten days pass without any Mayoral action.
And any penalties collected will be deposited in the City’s Housing Trust Fund for use by the City’s Small Sites Program.