As it did for Uber and Lyft drivers, San Francisco City Treasurer Jose Cisneros has instructed Airbnb hosts that they're responsible for obtaining business licenses.* Cisneros has backed down a bit on the rideshare side, allowing a reprieve for would-be Uber and Lyft business license registrants: Those drivers are being forgiven extra fines and provided more time to register and pay, news the treasurer announced earlier this month. It's possible that similar indulgences would be granted to Airbnb hosts, but regardless, the company itself wants the city to give up the business registration requirement for hosts altogether, at least "for hosts who use Qualified Website Companies like Airbnb to list their space." A sidenote: This designation has so far been reserved for Airbnb alone, so, "like Airbnb" is redundant.
Aaanyway, that request from Airbnb comes in the form of one of the company's action proposals and sits among a list of other demands for streamlining the registration process. Naturally, the timing is no coincidence: Airbnb is now on the hook for unregistered listings that make their way to the site, incurring the company fines of up to $1,000 per day per unregistered listing. That development is huge in part because it's been reported that Airbnb makes more than a fifth of its revenue from listings that aren't registered legally. So yes, it could be a lot of fines for the company.
In their statement, Airbnb says, "We all agree that the process is too complicated and creates huge barriers to compliance... [and] Platforms like Airbnb have a responsibility to work with City officials on simplifying and improving the registration process for hosts, and addressing the City’s big concerns." But they object to the Board of Supervisors' recent decision that they must kick hosts off the platform simply because they can't navigate all the complicated processes the city has put in their way.
Related: Airbnb Dealt Massive Blow In SF, As Supes Vote To Fine Company For Turning Blind Eye To Scofflaw Hosts
Like It Did For Uber Drivers, Treasurer's Office Orders Airbnb Hosts To Get Business Licenses
Treasurer Gives Uber And Lyft Drivers Longer To Obtain Business Licenses, Forgives Fines
* This post has been corrected to show that despite there being a business license requirement on the books for Airbnb hosts following the 2014 'Airbnb law', these license cost $0 because of another law that precludes anyone renting four or fewer units from having to register as a business. Airbnb therefore thinks this aspect of the law is superfluous and should be done away with.