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Matt Morgus

What are the local Airbnb Rules? | San Francisco Real Estate Podcast

What are the local Airbnb Rules? | San Francisco Real Estate Podcast

What are the Airbnb Rules in San Francisco?

Photo by @mattmorgus

Why are there so many regulations regarding Airbnb in San Francisco?

For starters, the San Francisco real estate market is in a major housing crisis, and has been for many years. The cost of housing goes up as the supply of housing is low. One of the main theories about the crackdown on Airbnb & short term rentals, is this will create more housing inventory on the market for long term tenants to legally lease out. With more housing supply on the market this should (potentially/eventually) help ease the housing burden on many San Francisco residence. This is just one theory of many...

Another theory is that Airbnb tenants make bad neighbors by having raging parties at all hours of the night. Neighbors complained to the city.

Do I need a business license to list my home on Airbnb? 

Yes. According to the Airbnb website, "Short-term rental operators in San Francisco must obtain a valid Business Registration Certificate. You can apply through the San Francisco Treasurer & Tax Collector's Portal."

Does San Francisco tax Airbnb hosts? 

Yes. According to the Airbnb website, "San Francisco imposes a 14% Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) on reservations of fewer than 30 nights. Airbnb collects and remits the TOT in San Francisco; more information about that process is available here."

What other Airbnb regulations are there? 

Short-term rental operators in San Francisco must also obtain a valid Short-Term Residential Rental Certificate from the Office of Short-Term Rentals in order to keep hosting on websites like Airbnb (this is separate and different from the Business Registration Certificate mentioned above).

How many days can I Airbnb my home in San Francisco?

As of May 2018, if you live in the property and rent out rooms, while you are still present in the property, you can Airbnb your home for an unlimited time. Remember, you have to be present.

If you are not present in the property, you can Airbnb your home up to 90 days per year.

Am I elgible to host on Airbnb?

  • Primary Residency Requirement. To register your listing, you must live there for at least 275 days per year (or, if you haven’t lived there for a full year, 75% of the days you have occupied the unit). This means, in effect, that your ability to share your space while you are present is unlimited, and you may rent out your entire space while you are absent for up to 90 days per year. Read more in the City’s Starter Kit or on the Planning Department’s information page.
  • Liability Insurance. The law requires hosts to maintain at least $500,000 of liability insurance. If you host exclusively through Airbnb, our Host Protection Insurance (HPI) program satisfies this requirement.
  • Rent Control. Administrative Code, Chapters 37 and 41A contains special rules that apply to hosts in rent-controlled properties, including limits on the amount you may collect each month from guests. If you live in a rent-controlled property, you should review these chapters carefully.
  • Building and Housing Standards. San Francisco enforces rules and regulations specifying minimum construction, design, and maintenance standards for buildings, including regulations on habitability, health and safety. Units that are the subject of a City enforcement action related to habitability cannot be used as short-term rentals. For more information, please review the San Francisco Building Inspection Commission Codes, or contact the Building Department directly.
  • Other Rules. It's also important to understand and abide by other contracts or rules that bind you, such as leases, condo board or co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable.

What are the fines in I break the Airbnb rules in San Francisco?

As of May 2018, the law limits rentals where the host is not present in the unit to a maximum of 90 days per year. Violators who continue to rent out their apartments beyond the 90 days are subject to a daily fine of $484 for first offenders up to $968 for repeat offenders. 

Airbnb rules in San Francisco are constantly changing. Please consult your local real estate attorney before renting your property out on Airbnb. Click here for more information regarding Airbnb rentals in San Francisco.


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