San Francisco Regulates Short-Term Rentals

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – San Francisco will strengthen its policy on short-term rentals from both ends, easing registration for hosts such as Airbnb and sharpening enforcement teeth.
     Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday announced a new Office of Short-Term Rental Administration and Enforcement: a six-person office designed to streamline host registrations and investigate violators.
     The city has sent violation letters to 15 hosts who allegedly turned 73 residential units into full-time hotels, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.
     Short-term rentals were illegal in San Francisco for decades, but the city legalized it in February, with conditions: Hosts must be permanent residents, must register with the city, and entire-unit rentals are limited to 90 days a year.
     But city officials told Courthouse News in March that the conditions were hard to enforce. Supervisor David Campos called the law a “paper tiger,” because it “has no teeth.”
     According to the Chronicle, only about 700 hosts have registered – a fraction of the more than 5,000 San Francisco listings on Airbnb – and hosts often complain that the process is inconvenient.
     The new department will have three staffers each from the city’s Planning Department and the City Administrator’s Office, and a budget of about $900,000. Some of the funding comes from a $50 fee that hosts pay every two years. More is expected to come in as listings are legalized and landlords begin paying the city’s 14 percent hotel tax.
     City officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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