San Francisco Rules for AirBnB Make Criminals Out of Residents

Alice Salles Comments

The housing crisis continues to worsen as cities pass even more regulations on the industry while doubling down on rent control and other types of restrictive rules. In many of California’s towns, this reality has become almost impossible to ignore, with officials now close to outlawing short-term rental apps such as AirBnB.

But despite what these cities’ rules say, people still have an incentive to rent their homes, especially where housing access is lacking. Needless to say, these people find no other option but to explore loopholes.

In the end, all these regulations do is to make criminals out of residents.

San Francisco, the epicenter of California’s housing crisis, has tight regulations governing short-term rentals, making it nearly impossible for anyone to rent their homes on apps such as AirBnB, HomeAway, and VRBO. But despite this difficulty — or perhaps because of it — people are using the registration process the city imposes on anyone wanting to rent their home to game the system.

But as the city cracks down on these illegal rentals, people end up losing their listings on home-sharing apps, as these companies are now forced by law to comply with San Francisco’s rules.

According to NBC, people applying with San Francisco officials to be allowed to post their listing on AirBnB and other sites are adding false information to their applications. By doing so, they hope to lead regulators into thinking they are complying with the rules when in fact, they fail to meet the requirements imposed by the city.

The San Francisco Office of Short-Term Rentals told reporters that anyone in the city trying to rent their homes for less than 30 days must live at the location for at least 275 nights per year. They must also be registered with the city. So when registrants claim to be the rental’s primary resident despite not holding that title, regulators deny their registration.

But while the process is ongoing, these individuals are allowed to continue listing their homes. And because of the false information added to their application forms, regulators take longer to verify all claims, giving renters more time to keep their listings up.

According to NBC, this is creating a chaotic situation as the backlog of pending applications continues to grow.

“Processing times have slowed to a crawl,” the report added, and “[a]s the four-person staff at the Office of Short-Term Rentals attempts to weed out potentially fraudulent applications, wait times are now averaging nine months.”

As rental owners look for new ways to go around the city’s rules, officials fear that unless more city resources go toward enforcement, things will only worsen. But as regulators come up with more ways to target renters, it’s clear that the city is spending a lot of taxpayer money on a fruitless pursuit.

How about helping to lessen the city’s ongoing housing crisis by cutting the red tape instead?

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