As San Franciscans mull Proposition F, which would overhaul the city's short-term rental laws, perhaps this figure might be taken into consideration. According to a press release the new City Office of Short Term Rental Administration and Enforcement levied $155,000 in fines against violators of existing regulations in September alone with one scofflaw host fined $77,000.
Seems like a good time to register your Airbnb, if you haven't, though that doesn't sound like a particularly fun or painless process (and that might be part of the point). And remember, hosts: According to current law, you must live for 275 days a year in the spot you're renting. The number of days you may rent while you aren't present is limited to 90 and that number would go down to 75 under Prop F. The Chronicle adds that hotel-tax obligations for renters have been "streamlined." For example: There's now an online application for business licenses, and if you aren't using Airbnb but some other service, you can pay hotel taxes annually rather than monthly, “We want to let [hosts] know they can do business with us in a far easier way, with a new interface and Web portal,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “We are lessening their administrative burden.”
“As with the first wave of penalties, we continue to send a message to those who violate our short-term rental laws that we will investigate and hold you accountable,” said Kevin Guy, Director of the Office of Short Term Rental Administration & Enforcement. “ If you are eligible to share your home, we will help you register, however, if you break the law and contribute to our City’s housing crisis, we will continue to be vigilant with our enforcement and, if appropriate, issue fines and penalties.”
What he's talking about: Estimates aren't precise, but it's probable that somewhere between 350 and 2,000 individual units are being kept off the long-term rental market in favor of being rented on a short-term basis year round. Airbnb lists about 5,500 properties in San Francisco.
For their part in the Prop F debate, Airbnb is fighting tooth and nail to prove that it's "just too extreme" — a turn of phrase they seem to be borrowing from or sharing with Mayor Lee — all through their SF for Everyone campaign. That group's war chest stands at $8 million, a sum "almost entirely" provided by Airbnb. Their arguments: Neighbors will be more inclined to sue neighbors for violations, not waiting for the city to impose fines or sanctions.
But hey, that $8 million is nothing compared to the roughly $25 million in back taxes Airbnb eventually paid to San Francisco after plenty of hemming and hawing this spring. Now they pay an estimated $1 million in hotel taxes to San Francisco each month.