Last week protestors gathered in San Francisco’s North Beach neighbourhood to lament Airbnb and companies that encourage property owners to piece out their homes in short-term rentals. They said that the practice is not only fundamentally changing and damaging neighborhoods, but it’s also illegal. And they’re right about the law.
Airbnb is looking to change that. The Bay Area-based startup is ramping up its lobbying efforts in its home city, according to the New York Times. Airbnb is getting behind the initiative “Fair to Share San Francisco,” a group pushing for housing reform that would decriminalize the short-term rental model that Airbnb has become so successful using.
On its site, Fair to Share San Francisco defends home sharing, saying home owners earn an average of $US4,000 per year by renting out space in their own homes. The group says that with this money, families can better afford the city’s high rent, effectively keeping neighborhoods together rather than splitting them apart. Around 80% of home sharers are reported to put their home sharing income back into rents and mortgages. Fair to Share got its figures from Airbnb.
It’s illegal to rent out any residential property for fewer than 30 days, Ted Gullicksen, director of the San Francisco Tenant’s Union, explained to Business Insider. Airbnb-style rentals also violate a second law in San Francisco: one forbidding “hotels” in areas zoned for residential buildings. The way some short-term rentals are operated allowed them to be legally considered hotels.
“Unfortunately, the laws governing home sharing today are outdated,” Fair to Share wrote on its website. “It’s time for new, fair laws that enable San Franciscans to share the home in which they live.”
David Chiu, president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, introduced legislation earlier this spring that would let residents legally rent out their houses for up to 90 days each calendar year, the New York Times says. The law would require these residents to physically occupy their buildings for the remaining 275 days of the year, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reports.
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