San Francisco warns home-stay companies that hosts must register

San Francisco this year made peace with Airbnb and HomeAway when the two vacation-rental companies agreed to ensure that all their local hosts abide by a requirement to register. Now the city is gearing up to pursue other home-stay companies, making sure that unregistered hosts don’t simply migrate elsewhere to duck their obligations.

On Monday, San Francisco wrote to 11 companies, warning them that they will face steep fines and criminal sanctions if they arrange short-term stays in unregistered homes. They have 45 days to comply with the law, and several options to do so.

“The onus is on the (companies) to determine how they want to comply and provide us with verifiable information,” said Kevin Guy, director of the Office of Short-Term Rentals, who wrote the letter.

Besides jettisoning any unregistered listings, companies must provide monthly affidavits that they are complying, and they must be ready to provide the city up to three years of bookings records upon request.

San Francisco wants to rein in short-term rentals because it fears that the lucrative practice siphons away permanent housing. Airbnb’s popularity exacerbated the issue, attracting thousands of local hosts. Airbnb says that most of its San Francisco hosts either rent out rooms to make ends meet, or rent out their whole place occasionally when they are out of town.

Last year the Board of Supervisors passed legislation imposing strict penalties on vacation-rental companies that arrange unregistered bookings.

Airbnb, joined by Expedia’s HomeAway, sued to overturn the law. But a federal judge ordered the companies to work with San Francisco on a system to register their hosts. Airbnb and HomeAway will be phasing in the system over the next few months and after Jan. 4, 2018, they must remove all unregistered San Francisco listings from their websites.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

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