Airbnb, San Francisco reach deal on rental registrations

May 1, 2017 by Sudhin Thanawala
City Attorney Dennis Herrera, left, smiles while walking with San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, right, after announcing a settlement agreement on short term rentals during a news conference Monday, May 1, 2017, at City Hall in San Francisco. San Francisco and Airbnb have reached a deal to end a lawsuit over a law that fines the company for booking rentals not registered with the city. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

San Francisco and Airbnb reached a deal Monday that aims to prevent the short-term rental website from listing housing units that are not following city rules that limit the duration of stays and the number of nights units can be rented.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed by Airbnb over a city law that fines the for booking rentals not registered with the city.

Under the deal, residents looking to list a rental will be able apply for a city registration number through Airbnb's website and will have to list their registration number to post a listing.

The company will provide a monthly list of all San Francisco listings to the city, so officials can verify that units are registered. Airbnb will deactivate listings that the city says are invalid.

"This settlement protects our neighborhoods and will help prevent our precious housing stock from being illegally turned into hotels at the expense of evicted or displaced tenants," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "I think this is going to put San Francisco on the road to being a model for effective regulation of home-hosting platforms."

Airbnb said in a statement that the agreement "puts in place the systems and tools needed to help ensure our community is able to continue to share their homes."

San Francisco-based Airbnb is the world's largest short-stay online rental company.

Critics complain Airbnb's business model encourages landlords to take already scarce rentals off the market. Supporters say they couldn't live in San Francisco without the extra money made in rentals.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera, right, is greeted by San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin, left, after announcing a settlement agreement on short term rentals during a news conference Monday, May 1, 2017, at City Hall in San Francisco. San Francisco and Airbnb have reached a deal to end a lawsuit over a law that fines the company for booking rentals not registered with the city. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

San Francisco allows short-term rentals, but it requires hosts to register with the city and limit the length of stays to less than 30 nights at a time. They can rent out their units when not present there for a maximum of 90 nights in a year.

Additionally, people can only register one unit and must live there for more than 9 months each year.

The city argued that only 2,100 of the more than 8,000 San Francisco listings on Airbnb were registered, making enforcement of those requirements difficult.

The city ordinance at issue threatened Airbnb with fines up to $1,000 for every booking it completes for a unit not registered with the city.

Airbnb argued the law would force it to screen and remove listings because the company would not want listings for units that could not legally be booked. The company said that role would violate a 1996 federal law that prohibits internet companies from being held responsible for content posted by users.

A federal judge in San Francisco rejected that argument, but said Airbnb might still be able to block the law on the grounds that the city does not have a way for it to quickly determine whether a unit is registered.

U.S. District Judge James Donato in November told the city and Airbnb to work harder to resolve Airbnb's suit.

Chris Lehane with Airbnb said on a conference call with reporters that the settlement provides a simple registration system while allowing the to make sure hosts are following the law.

City officials said it will take four months to build the technology to allow people to apply for registration directly through Airbnb. Everyone who wants to be on the site must register by 2018, Herrera said.

Explore further: Airbnb sues over registration of San Francisco homes

Related Stories

Airbnb imposes limits on rentals in Barcelona

February 7, 2017

Homeowners in central Barcelona will only be able to rent out one place on Airbnb as part of new rules announced Tuesday by the home rentals website, at loggerheads with local authorities.

San Francisco voters reject anti-Airbnb measure

November 4, 2015

San Francisco voters on Tuesday rejected a measure that would have limited short-term housing rentals in their city in what was seen as a referendum on surging startup Airbnb.

Airbnb adds new recommendations features

April 19, 2016

Airbnb is adding recommendations to its online accommodations service, building on its knowledge of travelers' preferences, coupled with tips from locals.

Recommended for you

Printing microelectrode array sensors on gummi candy

June 22, 2018

Microelectrodes can be used for direct measurement of electrical signals in the brain or heart. These applications require soft materials, however. With existing methods, attaching electrodes to such materials poses significant ...

EU copyright law passes key hurdle

June 20, 2018

A highly disputed European copyright law that could force online platforms such as Google and Facebook to pay for links to news content passed a key hurdle in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.