San Francisco has enacted strict restrictions on how property owners or tenants, can rent their units through websites like AirBnB or VRBO. These restrictions exist because San Francisco has declared that there is an ongoing housing crisis. The crisis is causing a shortage of decent, safe, sanitary, and affordable housing, especially for the elderly. The City refers to this as short term renting or rentals.
In particular, people offering units for short term use on websites like AirBnB are contributing to the crises. It is therefore, in the public interest that short term rentals are regulated to protect residents and conserve housing. For those reasons, San Francisco created an Office of Short Term Rentals and passed laws to regulate short term renting.
Property owners and tenants may offer their unit for short-term renting, if the unit is their primary residence and they are permanent resident of that unit. A primary residence is defined as a person’s usual place of return. This must be documented by at least two of the following: motor vehicle registration; driver's license; voter registration; tax documents showing the unit as the permanent resident's residence for the purposes of a home owner's tax exemption; or a utility bill. Someone can have only one primary residence.
Someone is a permanent resident of a unit, if they live in the unit for at least sixty consecutive days, with the intent to live in the unit as a primary residence. To offer the unit for short-term renting, the resident must live in the unit for at least 275 days of the year. If the resident has not lived in the unit for a year, they must live in the unit for 75% of the year.
The resident must comply with all federal, state, and local laws. This includes paying relevant taxes and maintain a business registration certificate. The resident must have liability insurance that covers $500,000 for bodily injury or property damage arising from the short-term renting. The policy must also indemnify of owners and any tenants in the building. No insurance is required if the hosting platform (AirBnB, VRBO, etc.) provides equal or greater insurance for the same injuries.
The resident must register the unit on the Short-Term Residential Rental Registry and list the department issued registration number on the short-term rental platform listing– for example, the AirBnB listing. If the unit is covered by the Rent Ordinance, the resident must comply with any rent limitations.
The resident offering their unit for short term rentals, must post the location of all fire extinguishers, gas shut off valves, fire exits, and pull fire alarms, on the inside of the front door of the unit. Finally, there can be no outstanding code violations of any kind related to the unit.
The resident must also maintain two years of records demonstrating compliance with the above outlined requirements. This includes the number of days they reside in the unit and the number of days of the year that the unit is offered for short term rentals. Failure to comply with any of the above requirements can result in civil or criminal penalties.