While Mayor Ed Lee vetoed the short-term rental law approved by San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors last year, publicly arguing that the legislation would have made registration and enforcement of San Francisco’s existing short-term rental regulations “more difficult and less effective, and [risked] driving even more people to illegally rent units,” complaints related to short-term rental activity in San Francisco more than doubled last year.

As we noted at the time of the Mayoral veto, the vast majority of units offered for rent on Airbnb remain unregistered and illegal themselves.

And last year, over 600 complaints related to illegal short-term rentals in San Francisco were filed with the City, as mostly mapped above, up from around 250 in 2015 and a quadrupling from roughly 150 complaints in 2014.

36 thoughts on “Complaints Related to Airbnb-ing in SF More Than Doubled Last Year”
      1. Curious if anyone here has gone through the process of researching a potential scofflaw in their own neighborhood? I’m curious if there is publicly accessible city database of registered properties against which you could check Airbnb listings (either by specific Airbnb property number, or specific address or even a map?).

        1. The SF Property Information Map includes information on short-term rental registration status. Type in an address, click Planning Apps and it’ll show whether a registration certificate has been issued along with its expiration date.

          There’s a registry of short-term rental registrations. However, it’s only available for public inspection in the Office of Short-Term Rentals, and names and addresses of registrants can be redacted.

  1. Excellent. Let’s keep complaining until there is a reconciliation between zoning regulations and short term rentals. People are turning their residences into hotels and BnBs which in my view completely undermines existing zoning, violates owner rights, deteriorates property values,etc.

    This will, one day, make its way to the high courts. Until then, we must make our voices heard.

    1. I’ll agree with some things you point out, but I don’t buy that property values have decreased. SF is still unaffordable as ever.

      Perhaps it’ll take more AirBnB rentals to actually drop down housing costs. 🙂

      1. No full stop. You can’t play loud music after 10pm. You can’t make major alterations without a planning and building permit. You can’t have illegal utility connections. You can’t park an RV on your lot for more than a certain length of time. You can’t legally have more than X number of inhabitants (say, family or friends, not renters) continuously occupying the house.

        Selfish pr*ck. Your house is lent to you through the largesse of the government and the social contract implied in good neighborliness and explicit in the legal code. Your choices, where they affect others, may have legal ramifications.

        As others have pointed out the moment you accept MONEY you are in business and subject to a whole nother set of rules and regs additionally.

      2. Wrong, full stop. It’s called zoning, and it’s been ruled legal time and time again by the SCOTUS.

        Don’t open an amateur gypsy hotel next to my house, and I won’t open a slaughterhouse in my backyard, or cannabis dispensary or strip club in my garage.

      3. Great, I’ve been looking for a new place to relocate my smelting / slaughterhouse / fishsauce manufacturing / nightclub / skunk breeding / jackhammer testing facility, is the house next door to you available by any chance?

      4. In my case, the “house” is a condo. “Your” “guests” have to traverse common hallways, use common facilities (swimming pool, spa etc) and generally cost the rest of us hassles and money. You do not have the right to do that, either by local law or CC&Rs. Full stop.

      5. No! not true at all. Codes, regulations and laws regarding zoning, use, construction are ALL designed to benefit and respect all of us. WE all have to comply, including you.

    2. Wait a second, how does the ability to host short-term rentals ‘violate owner’s rights’, while your suggestion of regulating who can stay how long on your own property NOT violate owner’s rights? Please explain your logic. I’m really curious to understand this pint. Thanks.

      1. Homeowner’s rights are actually VERY different than business-owner rights, and when you are charging money for entry to your space, it becomes a business. Full stop.

      2. How? In a city like San Francisco, much of the property being rented is in multi-family structures meant for a stable, long-term base of residents. Introducing a constant stream of new transient short-term renters reduces the security of the building and all its residents, may increase wear and tear on common areas, may subject all residents to noise and other activities typical of people on vacation but not usually of people at home and generally creates a different, more intrusive building atmosphere that can be very disturbing to the “quiet enjoyment” rights of other residents.

        FYI “quiet enjoyment” is a right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of real property by a tenant or landowner. Courts read a covenant of quiet enjoyment between the Landlord and Tenant into every rental agreement, or tenancy. Thus a renter, or tenant, has the right to quiet enjoyment of the leased premises regardless of whether the rental agreement contains such a covenant.

  2. Just my Opinion: you are the kind of people who gives liberal a bad name and makes people voted for Trump. Hope the Trump administration throws out all those stupid zoning laws/regulation for the short term rental.

    1. He can’t because he would have to push though federal law that would prohibit zoning in across the country. There is also a matter of state and city autonomy. The best he can do is threaten and withdraw federal funds to certain programs that some cities might rely on and hope they comply to get back the funding.

      1. Let’s all hope that trump do something to the radicals in the city that cannot seem to be able to keep their hands and mouth off other people’s property

    2. He can’t really impact local or state zoning. He can however, and just did, issue an executive order requiring expedited environmental reviews for critical infrastructure projects. I suppose that could have an impact on HSR at some point.

    3. Peter: Instead of these broad statements, like your boy Mr. Trump makes (I think it’s called Alternate Facts), perhaps you can provide some explanation.

      Here’s what I think: When one buys a property, they understand the rules – for good or bad. So if you buy a house in a neighborhood that is zoned for one and two family houses, you should understand that the houses around you should be one and two family.

      Now ABNB comes along, and you find yourself living next to a bed and breakfast (essentially). Or there are strangers coming and going in the other condo unit in your two unit building. Do you think that is right? If you do, fine, we can agree to disagree, but rather than just make sweeping, insulting statements to a specific poster, perhaps give a little detail.

  3. Excellent…but much easier to do as we did for 8 apts…obtain on-line evidence of rentals and sublets of tenants doing activity–illegally–explicitly restricted per signed lease terms–and submit to owner, who evicts and re-rents for $1000s more per year of rental income. Subrentals and sublets stop, owner is super happy and long term residents are super happy. The end.

    1. You’re what we refer to in the business as “a real charmer.” But I admit, in your shoes I might’ve done the same.

  4. What is the status of the new legislation? Isn’t there new legislation we passed that requires AirBnB to work with the city? Is that being enforced?

    1. I don’t think any such legislation passed (mayor vetoed it.) AirBnB now claims they want to work with the city to get rid of illegal rentals but I haven’t seen much evidence that is actually happening.

    2. Legislation was approved by the Supes unanimously this past summer that prohibits Airbnb and other “platforms” from collecting booking fees on unregistered units. Those that do will be liable for fines of $1,000/day/violation. Airbnb and HomeAway sued in Federal court and the City agreed to suspend enforcement until the court rules on the case. That decision is expected soon and will find in the City’s favor. Here’s hoping the appeal by Airbnb/HomeAway doesn’t delay enforcement any further.

      In November, the Board passed another set of revisions to the law that the mayor vetoed.


    Renter rents a pre-1979 1BR apartment in, say, Lower Nob Hill for $2000 in 2010. Renter’s rent is now $2200 thanks to rent control. Renter is now getting married and it’s time to move out. But Renter realizes that once renter moves out, Landlord will put the unit back on the market for around $3200. So Renter looks at putting the place on Airbnb and quick math says that if Renter gets it rented for $100 a night for just 11 nights a month, Renter has covered rent and still has a crash pad the other 20 nights per month. No brainer for renter.

    Landlord now has random Airbnb renters coming in and out of his building. They may or may not cause damage, but they are not the tenant on the lease. Other neighbors notice and complain, but Landlord can’t do anything unless he catches it happening. Landlord also missed out on increasing rent $1000 per month, but let’s face it, no one cares about Landlord.

    But that is 1 less unit that has made it to the open market, thereby artificially suppressing supply thanks to Airbnb. Multiply that by all the units in the City that are being used in this fashion (obviously no one knows the exact number thanks to Airbnb’s refusal to provide any information) and you realize quickly that the rent controlled-housing stock is not becoming available to new renters to the market.

    That said, rents are down all over San Francisco in 2016. This is easily researched and well-noted anecdotally by anyone that knows anyone that looked for an apartment. Rents would be down even more were it not for Airbnb.

    [Editor’s Note: San Francisco Rents Down, Oakland Rents Up.]

  6. And the complaints will keep rolling in. It is really hard to tell people who can live in their house and if money was exchanged for it. Airbnb, et al. tie the internet into the process, limitless fuel on the faux problem.

    Planning needs to focus on building for the type of demand, in this case a range of hotels from SRO-style to luxury. I’ve written all the supervisors many times on this with no reply, yet Lee seems to get it and applies his pen accordingly (as he does most things as of late). I have yet to hear a logical, researched reason, as to why the city can’t use up-zoning of commercial lots for hotels to squash short term rental demand.

  7. airbnb is a despicable enterprise. if they were honest, then they would argue for zoning changes and enforce their own restrictions

  8. Airbnb works for people who are present when they have guests stay with them. For example, those who have a spare bedroom. I have a friend who did this and there were never any issues. In that scenario, it’s just like having a short-term roommate. It’s too bad that some have ruined it for this particular group.

    1. Agreed, in it’s original format Air BnB wasn’t a bad concept. However, there was only so much room for growth in that market, so the opened it up to non-owner occupied investor owned properties things got off track. Having unmonitored self-service hotels is about the worst business idea ever! But Air BnB doesn’t care what kind of havoc these cause in communities as long as they get paid!

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