Airbnb says online registration will legalize all SF hosts

Airbnb hosts in San Francisco can now register their short-term rentals (STR) with the city online. The company claims this step will eliminate scofflaw, unregistered homes once and for all.

San Francisco passed regulations on local homeowners listing properties for short-term rentals, but only a fraction (some 15 percent) of the thousands of local hosts have bothered to register their home with the Office of Short Term Rentals.

Earlier this year, NBC Bay Area reported that San Francisco has issued over 480 citations and $1 million in fines to outlaw STR hosts since the beginning of 2016.

In May, Airbnb and the city settled a lawsuit over the city’s regulations. Previously, the company alleged that the law “imposes a significant burden on Airbnb” and that it wasn’t up to them to make sure customers kept within the law.

Airbnb dropped the suit in exchange for the city agreeing to a quicker and easier method of providing documentation.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera claimed the settlementas a political victory, calling it “a turning point when it comes to enforcement.”

Today Airbnb announced an online registration system that it promises will cut down on the previously onerous process of putting STRs on the record.

Indeed, the company says that, soon enough, every San Francisco ad on their site will be legally registered.

“The new registration system provides the City of San Francisco with the tools it needs to enforce its short-term rental laws, while providing our hosts an easy way to register,” company spokesperson Mattie Zazueta said via email.

It seems like a binding ceasefire in a previously heated political showdown between regulation and technology, at least over the registration question. Airbnb competitor HomeAway is party to the settlement as well.