Home-sharing legislation in San Francisco

Today, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors David Chiu is proposing new rules for home-sharing in the city of San Francisco.  While we still have a long way to go before we get a good law enacted, we wanted to tell you about this exciting news right away.

This legislative proposal acknowledges what our community already knows: San Franciscans should be able to share the home in which they live.

By proposing this legislation, Supervisor Chiu has taken a critical step towards recognizing the benefits of home-sharing for everyone in San Francisco. We applaud President Chiu for his leadership and his work over the last two years to bring together so many stakeholders who care deeply about home-sharing. And we look forward to continuing to work together on these important issues. We strongly believe Airbnb helps make San Francisco more affordable for homeowners and tenants alike. We’ve heard countless stories from hosts who have avoided eviction or foreclosure thanks to Airbnb, and we’re eager to work on policies that support the sharing economy and make San Francisco an even better, more affordable city to call home.

There are certainly provisions in this proposal that could be problematic to our hosting community, including a registration system that could make some of their personal information public, so there is much work to be done to ensure that we pass legislation  that is progressive, fair, and good for San Francisco and our hosting community.

But this is an important first step, and it is just the beginning of what promises to be a very long process during which the entire Board of Supervisors will look at this proposal, hear from all sides—including our community—and make decisions about how to proceed.

Most critically, if the legislation introduced today were to pass and be signed into law, San Francisco residents will be able to share the homes in which they live with travelers from around the world.

Under the legislation introduced today:

  • Residents of San Francisco would be able to offer their primary residence to travelers from around the world.
  • Hosts must have some basic insurance or damage protection, or list on a platform that does.  We believe that Airbnb’s Host Guarantee will allow members of our community to meet this requirement.
  • The proposal protects rent control by maintaining the current rule prohibiting rent-controlled tenants from earning more than they pay in rent.
  • Airbnb guests act responsibly, but in the rare instances when home sharers using ours or other platforms do act as bad neighbors and a community member complains, the city can investigate and take corrective action.
  • Airbnb will collect and remit occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts, as we have already volunteered to do.
  • A host accused of violating the law by his or her landlord will have options to avoid eviction and comply with the new law.

This proposal, while not perfect, brings us closer to transparent, fair, progressive home-sharing rules. These can be tough issues, but we are absolutely committed to working with policymakers in San Francisco to craft solutions that make the city stronger and ensure the Airbnb community can continue to thrive.

This work is particularly important to us because San Francisco is our home and it always will be. Airbnb got started a little more than five years ago when two of our co-founders, Brian and Joe, were struggling to pay rent for their apartment on Rausch Street and decided to share their home with visitors from around the world.  Today, Airbnb helps countless San Franciscans pay their bills and stay in their homes in the city they love. According to an analysis of our community in the city:

  • The overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts share only the home in which they live.
  • 56 percent of host income is spent on regular household expenses.
  • Over 75 percent of Airbnb hosts who rent their home in San Francisco said they use their Airbnb income to help pay their rent.
  • 82 percent of hosts who own their home in San Francisco use that income to help pay their mortgage or property taxes.
  • And nearly 180,000 visitors came to San Francisco and stayed with Airbnb hosts in the last year alone. The visitors spend more, stay longer, and visit more local businesses than hotel guests, bringing huge economic benefits to the City.

But numbers don’t tell nearly the whole story.

Behind those numbers are thousands of hosts and hundreds of thousands of visitors to San Francisco—enriching neighborhoods, touting San Francisco as a destination for travelers around the world. Hosts who can pay their bills, avoid foreclosure, spend more time with their families and pursue their dreams.  Guests who experience the real San Francisco and visit local, sustainable businesses and stores off the beaten track. Hosts and guests who develop friendships, and reconnect with real people and real neighborhoods.

We want to work with the Board of Supervisors and everyone who cares about this vibrant city to ensure that these connections continue, and that our community of hosts can continue to share their homes and afford to live in San Francisco. And we want to ensure that everyone in San Francisco has their voice heard so we end up with fair rules that let us all share the amazing city Airbnb has always called home.

Today was a great first step.  But now the hard work begins, and we will need you, our community, to stand with us every step of the way.