Today at noon, the San Francisco Tenants Union (SFTU) will protest what they claim is “thousands of rent controlled apartments” that have been illegally converted to short-term rentals on sites like Airbnb. Starting at 1937 Mason St., a three-unit building that SFTU says used the Ellis Act to evict all tenants to cash in on tourist rentals, the protestors will post stickers warning anyone who stays there that they’re doing so illegally. Check out the sticker above.
In a press release, SFTU says more than 50 complaints have been filed with the city about these types of illegal conversions, which violate the Apartment Conversion Law (Chapter 41A of the San Francisco Administrative Code) that protects the city’s rental stock for permanent residents and makes rentals of less than 30 days illegal.
Director of the SF Tenants Union Ted Gullicksen wrote in the release: “San Francisco is facing a severe housing crisis with soaring rents and evictions. It's intolerable that the City is tolerating thousands of illegal conversions and thus facilitating hundreds of evictions.”
On August 7, the Planning Commission will consider new legislation from Supervisor David Chiu that seeks to limit short-term apartment rentals through Airbnb, VRBO, FlipKey and similar services by legalizing and regulating them. SFTU worked with Chiu’s office on the legislation.
At a press conference in April, Chiu said the legislation targets “the worst offenders that have taken entire units off the market and turned them into year-round hotels,” quotes the San Francisco Bay Guardian. If passed, the legislation would require hosts to register with the city, limit rentals to no more than 90 days per year, and enforce the city's 14 percent hotel tax. Airbnb said it will start collecting the hotel tax sometime this summer.
In June, The Chronicle dug into Airbnb's impact on S.F. housing, finding 60 properties that were for rent full-time and uncovering that two-thirds of the site’s total listings were entire houses or apartments. The data was complied by Connotate Inc. using information from Airbnb’s website on May 19. Connotate chief strategy officer, Laura Teller, said: “In a city that has chronic housing shortages, the number of Airbnb homes that appear to not be available on the rental market is significant.”