Class Calls AirBnB Illegal in San Francisco

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – AirBnB is driving up the already stratospheric price of rentals in San Francisco, and exacerbating its housing shortage, by illegally facilitating the conversion of residential properties to short-term rentals, a class action claims in Superior Court.
     Lead plaintiff Louis Gamache claims that through its website, “AirBnB participates in, facilitates and enables the illegal rental of short-term rentals for rooms and apartments in the City and County of San Francisco.”
     AirBnB works with its “hosts” by offering them a welter of services through which they can list their properties online for rent. It even “claims to insure hosts up to $1,000,000, which facilitates a false sense of security,” Gamache says in the lawsuit.
     “Given the number of articles surrounding the illegality of AirBnB, postings on its own website from users, and involvement in lawsuits on behalf of users, AirBnB is on notice that its business is illegal in San Francisco,” according to the complaint. “On its website, AirBnB even summarizes the San Francisco Administrative Code, Section 41.A.5b y stating: ‘San Francisco law prohibits the offering of a “residential unit” for rent for “tourist or transient” use. The definitions of “residential unit” and “tourist or transient” are found at Section 4I.A.4. While the definitions are not entirely clear, the law appears to regulate the rental of a residential unit for less than a30-day term in any apartment building with at least four units, and it may regulate more types of
     housing.’
     “AirBnB is also on notice that its business is illegal in San Francisco because
     Plaintiffs’ counsel notified AirBnB of its intent to file a lawsuit based on AirBnB’s violations of the laws discussed below.”
     Gamache seeks to represent a class of “tenants who lived in a residential unit while other units within the building were rented through AirBnB’s platform.”
     He claims that AirBnB knows it is violating the law, and encourages others to do so, and that it is “aware that permanent residents are being displaced and harmed as a result of AirBnB’s activities in San Francisco.”
     He seeks class certification, an injunction and damages for violations of the City Code and unfair competition.
     He is represented by Tyson Redenbarger with the Hooshmand Law Group.

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