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Phil Matier: San Francisco Supervisors Pass Controversial Airbnb Law

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco Supervisors have passed a controversial proposal on how the city should handle people who rent out their homes and apartments on websites like Airbnb.

In Tuesday's 7-4 vote the bill makes the temporary rental of property legal. The short-term rentals, dubbed the "Airbnb law" affects people who have used these websites to rent-out their rooms, apartments and their homes. We're not talking about sub-letting your apartment, but it is basically the operation of a commercial enterprise.

This vote legalizes the agreement and will require that hosts register with the city and pay through the city's hotel tax law. It also adds a fee that goes to the city's Planning Department where an inspector is hired to make sure that those involved in the agreement are following the rules and guidelines. The new law takes effect in February 2015.

I think we're going to see more on this issue especially since it involves housing and can impact the local market. In cities like San Francisco and Oakland where the rents are really tough, people are taking entire units of apartments off the market for long-term renters and are Airbnb-ing them out because there's more money to be made and less hassle because you don't have a tenant who can sue you. The landlord can simply get them in and out.

San Francisco Supervisors Pass Controversial Airbnb Law

The new law also puts a 90-day limit on renting housing or units if you don't actually live in the space you're renting. That's to keep someone from buying up units and turning them into a mini Airbnb motel. However, if property owners actually live in the unit they're renting, there is no time limit. That portion was included to help people actually make their rent payments and for people who say they need the extra money.

The question is enforcement. How do you make sure the 90-day limit is observed? Is there enough money to send around Airbnb inspectors? That remains to be seen.


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