Having more than doubled from around 250 in 2015 to over 600 in 2016, the number of formal complaints related to illegal short-term rentals in San Francisco is on pace to double again in 2017, with roughly 200 complaints filed in the first quarter of the year, which is twice the number of complaints filed with the City in the first quarter of 2016.

And once again, while San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors had approved strict new limits on airbnb-ing in San Francisco last year, the law was vetoed by Mayor Ed Lee, who publicly argued 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,” despite the fact that the majority of units offered for rent on Airbnb remain unregistered and illegal themselves.

22 thoughts on “Complaints Related to Airbnb-ing in S.F. Have Doubled Again”
  1. airbnb should be fined and punished for not enforcing this. Why should the city have to go after all these scofflaws when it could just fine AirBNB, and make them manage their own business.

          1. about one in eight SF residents voted for Ed Lee in 2015, so you may be right that he does work in the interest of a small minority of the population. FTR, SF does not confer citizenship, as it is (sadly) not a sovereign state.

  2. My neighborhood used to have neighbors. Now we’re down by at least half. Its not all bad, but the problems tend to be: an utter lack of care for the street appearance of the short term rental homes, erratic garbage dumping when airbnb’ers come and go, a lack of “back-up” when having to confront nuisances or crime issues in the neighborhood (short term renters could care less about the neighborhood), party noise, no knowing who these strangers are coming and going all the time… and that over time the home owners themselves become less and less in evidence. They phone it in.

  3. SS bias is palpable.

    They’ll auto-register the people, boom -> now all legal and registered. BUT, what’s not mentioned is that AirBNB has, for a fact reduced the amount of illegal multiple listings per host.

    1. While “bias” seems to be the default slur whenever a trend doesn’t match ones preconceptions or book of business, our calls are based on hard data versus popular opinion (or an agent’s feeling/hope).

      Had the number of actual complaints dipped, our headline would have reflected said trend. And we’ll note, you’re highlighting the fact that despite Airbnb’s latest PR campaign to reign in bad actors, the number of local complaints has still doubled.

      Regardless, the biggest hindrance to registering isn’t the city’s process per se, but the fact that the majority of unregistered units wouldn’t qualify under the City’s current short-term rental rules, which were relaxed for Airbnb. And more specifically, the primary residence requirement.

  4. My neighborhood has been converted into “corporate residences” that seem to be rented to local businesses that use them for short term housing for their employees/guests. The same people are never in the apartments twice, and many units sit idle for days and weeks at a time.

    Where there were once people we knew and would talk to on the street, the same units are now empty or occupied short term. This is in addition to Airbnb units. And there are units that seem to belong to folks with multiple residences, and simply visit their SF residence (or their friends and family do) once a month or two. And the streets are filled with double parked Uber cars. So I guess we’ve been “disrupted”.

    1. Yep, a LOT of folks are now doing one month furnished corporate rental to steer clear of the Airbnb restrictions. The short term rental gig is having far greater impact than most people will admit. Good for the owners, bad for long term renters and the neighbors.

  5. Just another point of view. I’ve lived owned two different condos over the last 9 years, and I’ve had little interest in meeting neighbors. When i get home, I want to be left alone rather than make small-talk. My neighbors may or may not have been AirBnB’ing, and I wouldn’t know or cared since strangers are less likely to make smalltalk. My view might not represent the majority, but hopefully I’m not the only one.

    1. Martin,

      You are NOT the only one. I could care less about knowing my neighbors. I do not want a bunch of strangers merely passing through my building though.

  6. More than 75% of Airbnb’s SF listings are still illegal. They have more than 8,000 active hosts in the city. But fewer than 1,900 people are legally registered to offer short-term rentals, and not all of those are on Airbnb.

    The company is playing the same game in NYC, where it claims its “one host, one home” policy is reducing the number of entire-unit listings available to tourists. But the law in NYC doesn’t allow ANY STRs for entire units. An extra room is fine so long as the host is present. But you can’t rent the entire place.

    These guys are rich, shameless hucksters.

  7. Totally agree ABB has it well within their technological capacity to enforce registration if the city simply required them to. Three key facts:

    1) Every single monetary transaction flows through ABB as the middleman so they can take their cut >> they know exactly how much money each listing makes and how many days its occupied per month or per year

    2) Every single listing must have a precise address associated with it that is known by ABB >> they do this as part of their property host verification process from day one

    3) SF currently has and makes public a detailed map showing exact addresses of registered ABB properties

    …So a TRS-80 could take the 8,000 pieces of data, compare 2 to 3 and tie 1 with each…resulting in perfect information for enforcement and tax collection.

    But anyone who has knocked around ABB a bit (try this in your own neighborhood by looking at external pictures posted for a property purported to be in a certain location) knows that ABB purposely obfuscates the precise address of a given listing–not because the owner has requested it, but because it makes it that much harder for neighbors to track and report violators. But how ABB can hide behind the false curtain of not having perfect information about a given property’s taxable income history is unfathomable.

    I get why Ed Lee does not want to rock the ABB boat too much and risk losing a huge and wealthy anchor employer for the city, but at least treat SF voters and home owners like adults.

  8. We and our friends have done AirBNBs and VRBO’s a lot over the years, mainly because we’re all families with young children, occasionally pets, and hotel rooms are just not set up well for that. Nice to have a kitchen, kitchen table, etc. We don’t want to annoy neighbors and we try to be conscientious, but if a city wants to separate short-term from long-term residents than I hope there will be an increase in supply of legal units that offer whatever it is that attracts people to airbnbs instead of hotels. Oh wait, a building filled with units with kitchens…isn’t that suddenly possible housing stock being lost to short-term residents? So confused.

    1. Please, spare us! Many hotels will let you stay with your pet after the payment of a small additional fee. There’s all kinds of hotel rooms that have kitchens and kitchen tables, they are called extended stay hotels. But, of course, If you were to book an extended stay hotel room, you’d have to still stay in an area zoned for a hotel.

      Let’s be real: You and your friends have done AirBNBs and VRBO’s a lot over the years, mainly because you have an ingrained callous disregard for the law and for the local people already living in residential areas that want quiet enjoyment of their neighborhood without some tinhorn operating an illegal hotel in it with tourists coming and going at all hours. You probably also enjoy the transgressiveness of flouting social norms via mobile app because it makes you feel “modern” and “high tech”.

      Of course now that AirBNB and VRBO are established and have disrupted the market, future generations will become acclimated to casual lawbreaking. Very few new extended stay hotels will get proposed and built. Brian Chesky can and will be able to go around saying that he’s satisfying some “unmet need”, which he was in fact responsible for exacerbating.

  9. I wonder how many of the data points are associated with tenants illegally posting their units. Landlords seem much more motivated to file complaints. I know one landlord in Berkeley that seems to just sit around all day watching his closed circuit monitors waiting for intruders. I think a lot more landlords than expected would prefer aggressive rather than selective enforcement.

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