San Francisco Votes to Legalize Airbnb Rentals

Lawmakers in San Francisco have officially approved an act that would enable local residents to rent out their homes to traveling out-of-towners on sites like Airbnb.

On Tuesday, October 7, the Board of Supervisors voted 7-4 in favor of short-term rentals. The decision comes with restrictions, however, including a 90-day limit on the amount of days an entire home can be rented out each year. A second vote is still necessary for the measure to be administered, but as the San Francisco Chronicle reports, that vote is expected to be perfunctory.

Leader of the measure, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, said he was aiming to find a happy medium between keeping affordable housing and allowing residents to expand their income. “The status quo isn’t working; we have seen an explosion in short-term rentals,” explained Chiu, who spent more than two years creating the legislation.

Though little is done to impose this, today, San Francisco currently bans residential rentals that fall short of 30 days. Chiu’s new legislation would allow these rentals, but with a curb.

The Huffington Post explains the bill in depth:

“The law, which would take effect in February, allows only permanent residents to offer short-term rentals; it requires hosts register with the city and get a business license and permit; and it mandates the collection of hotel tax. It also limits entire-home rentals to 90 days per year, requires each listing to carry $500,000 in liability insurance, and establishes guidelines for enforcement by the Planning Department.”

Airbnb accepts these limitations, citing in a statement that the new measure “will give regular people the right to share the home in which they live and make it fair to share in San Francisco.” Altogether, the six-year-old startup sees the official move as a step in the right direction, especially since the California-based bill helps to make clear and legitimize its business model in the city the company calls home.

As most U.S. municipalities ban short-term rentals, Airbnb’s focus has now shifted to other major cities like Austin and New York City. “Every city is different, and we are working with leaders around the world on rules that work for them,” says Nick Papas, an Airbnb spokesman.