Airbnb promises to hunt down illegal rentals in San Francisco

Airbnb says it’s cracking down on listings that violate San Francisco’s short-term rental law, announcing plans Saturday to investigate 671 suspicious rentals in the city.

The company says it initially will target listings that offer entire homes to rent for short periods of time, and that are posted by landlords who offer more than one listing. Those listings could run afoul of San Francisco law, which bans short-term rentals unless hosts meet certain conditions. Airbnb reports those red-flag listings make up 12 percent of San Francisco entire-home listings, and 7 percent of all Airbnb listings in the city. From March 2015 through March of this year, those listings accounted for 17 percent of total revenue brought in by Airbnb rentals in the city, according to the company.

“We want to take action if these are listings that could be impacting the availability of long term rental housing in the city,” Airbnb wrote in a blog post over the weekend.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported the crackdown Saturday.

Airbnb says its goal is to ensure that hosts who rent their entire homes on that platform are permitted to list only one property, and to remove listings posted by “unwelcome commercial operators.”

In January, Airbnb removed nearly 100 such listings in San Francisco, according to the company. In June it removed 92, and in September it removed 26.

The company reports there are almost 9,500 active Airbnb listings in San Francisco.

Critics complain Airbnb is exacerbating San Francisco’s housing crisis by tempting landlords to list their properties on Airbnb instead of signing long-term leases. A January study backed by the hotel industry claimed that more than 300 “full-time” Airbnb hosts raked in $44 million last year, or 22 percent of all Airbnb revenue made in the city.

In response to such criticisms, Airbnb tries to paint itself as a positive addition to the community. The company says it contributed $14.5 million in hotel taxes to San Francisco last year.

Image: A screenshot of the Airbnb website. (Courtesy of Airbnb)




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  • Barrack King Putt Obola

    Is this ILLEGAL’s in rentals? Not sure how to interpret the title.