New Airbnb Laws to Hit SF. What Renters Need to Know

Renting out your home or apartment on short-term rental websites like Airbnb or VRBO will now be legal in the city of San Francisco, under legislation voted on yesterday by San Francisco City leaders.

But legalization also brings regulation.

Those regulations include a stipulation that only permanent residents who live in the unit at least 275 days out of the year (as either renters or owners) can list on the site. In addition, those listing their properties must also jump through a few more hoops besides taking attractive pictures of their space and posting them online.

Under the new legislation renters must also:

  • Register with the City Planning Department (a cost of $50)
  • Hold up to $500,000 in liability insurance
  • Maintain a business license
  • Follow current rent control laws. In other words, if you are lucky enough to (still) be reaping the benefits of a lease you signed in 1999, you cannot be charging your subletters more than what you are paying each month.
  • Oh yeah, and you’ll also now have to pay the 14% city hotel tax.

For hosted rentals, where the permanent resident is on-site, there are no limits on the amount of days it can rent for. Non-hosted properties can only be rented for 90 days, under the new legislation.

The new law, which is expected to go into effect in February, was part of a two year process spearheaded by San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu, who wanted to balance the needs of those who earn extra cash renting out their properties, with those who are paying exorbitant rents in the city due to a severe rental housing shortage.

Airbnb called the move a “victory” in a statement on its website, adding that “the legislation will give regular people the right to share the home in which they live and make it fair to share in San Francisco.”

Are you a renter who hosts their place on Airbnb? Be sure to follow these tips before subletting. And don’t forget to refer to the subletter’s checklist.