Potentially very good news about airbnb’s willingness to actively help cities police short-term rentals

Yesterday airbnb announced its intention to abandon its policy of stonewalling cities and instead actively help them enforce reasonable regulations to manage short-term rentals. This includes enforcing annual caps on airbnb host-absent “entire place” vacation rental listings and providing host contact information for use by city regulators. Your City should register its interest with airbnb ASAP.  

From The Verge, November 14, 2016


 Airbnb’s about-face in its hometown also comes as it seems likely to lose a court case about unregistered hosts. The company appealed a new law in June that would see it face a $1,000 fine for every unregistered San Francisco listing on its site, claiming that such a rule impinged on its free-speech rights, and violated the Communications Decency Act. But US district judge James Donato, in charge of the case, has slapped down Airbnb’s arguments in hearings, indicating he may clear the way for the city to begin fining the company. 

A new registration system would allow Airbnb to dodge these fines, as well as simplify an existing governmental registration procedure that the company itself has identified as overly complex and arduous. Airbnb’s head of policy strategy, David Owen, said his company’s change of tune should make it a lot easier for hosts to sign up and make their listings legal. “A big part of why the host requirements for registration are so complicated is that we were unwilling to help the city,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Thempany has also indicated it’s willing to make similar deals in other cities around the world that have railed against the practice of private rentals. “We’re working with cities throughout the world on smart, creative solutions to address their specific issues,” Airbnb policy chief David Lehane told the SF Chronicle, but the company has its work cut out with existing bans in New York and Berlin, as well as crackdowns against unlicensed rentals across Europe and Asia.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, November 14, 2016


 “The vacation-rental giant told The Chronicle it is willing to provide all local hosts’ names, addresses and guest stays as part of a mandatory registration system it would craft with the city. Once such a system exists, Airbnb could cut off listings when they hit the city’s annual cap on number of nights rented and ensure that apartments where tenants were evicted under the Ellis Act are not rented to travelers, the company said.” 

“On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is expected to weigh stringent new limits curtailing short-term rentals in a private home to no more than 60 days a year. Currently people renting rooms to travelers can do so 365 days a year, while whole-home rentals are capped at 90 days. And last week, a federal judge indicated that he’s likely to rule against Airbnb in its lawsuit over a San Francisco law that would hold the lodging marketplace and similar companies liable for steep fines and criminal penalties if they book guests into unregistered listings.”