Q&A Regarding Short Term Rentals (SF)

July 1, 2017

Q: We have a furnished one-bedroom apartment that family stays in for a few months of the year. The rest of the year, we rent to traveling nurses or visiting professors for stays of 30 - 90 days, due to the apartment’s location. We use Airbnb’s platform for the additional marketing and insurance the company provides. Are we breaking any laws?We have a furnished one-bedroom apartment that family stays in for a few months of the year. The rest of the year, we rent to traveling nurses or visiting professors for stays of 30 - 90 days, due to the apartment’s location. We use Airbnb’s platform for the additional marketing and insurance the company provides. Are we breaking any laws?

A: As long as your rentals are for at least 30 days, you likely are not breaking any laws.  

Due to the rapid increase of short-term rentals in recent years, some jurisdictions such as San Francisco have established strict regulations for short-term rentals and new local agencies to monitor their compliance. San Francisco defines short-term rentals as those which last for a period of less than 30 days.  

To avoid triggering the strict regulations, it is important to make sure that your advertisement listings and your rentals are for a minimum of 30 days and that all rentals are carefully documented in writing.  In other words, you should have written rental agreements and documents establishing that the rentals are for periods of at least 30 days in the event your rental practices are ever questioned by a regulating agency.

Recently, hosting platforms such as Airbnb have agreed to provide the San Francisco Office of Short-Term Rentals with a monthly list of all San Francisco listings so that the City can check them with their registry. They’ve also agreed to require new hosts to be registered with the City before posting rentals and to cancel future stays and deactivate listings after receiving notice from the City of an invalid registration. The Office of Short-Term Rentals recommends that you ensure that booking calendars for all online listings clearly indicate a 30-day minimum stay.

Notwithstanding the above, even though your rentals likely do not run afoul of short-term rental regulations, they likely would be subject to the strict San Francisco rent and eviction controls. If a situation arises where a tenant refuses to leave, then the rent and eviction controls would generally restrict your ability to raise the rent and would protect the tenant from eviction without just cause. This is another reason why it is important to have a comprehensive written rental agreement that establishes the terms of the occupancy and complies with your obligations as a landlord.

Copyright © 2017 by Fried & Williams LLP. All Rights Reserved.The information in this article is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice. For any specific matter, please consult with an attorney.

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