A new day for home sharing in San Francisco

By Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs

Last year Airbnb and HomeAway reached an agreement with the City of San Francisco to protect home sharing and ensure the City’s short-term rental laws are enforceable.

As part of the agreement, we agreed to launch an online registration system through the Airbnb platform that makes it easier for our host community to comply with the City’s short-term rental rules. In the last six months, we have worked with the City to develop and implement the pass-through registration system (PTR) and educate our hosts about the registration process.

Last week marked the full implementation of that registration system. Moving forward, this system will ensure that after years of debate, home sharing is legal in San Francisco. The pass-through registration system we developed in San Francisco is very similar to systems we’ve implemented in other major markets, including Chicago and New Orleans.

As part of our commitment to the City, we deactivated listings that did not submit an application for a short-term rental license through Airbnb or did not provide a permit number obtained by registering directly with the City before the January 16 registration deadline. In the spirit of transparency, here are more insights about our community in San Francisco as it stands currently:

  • Today there are 6,300 active listings on our platform, including more than 2,600 exempt listings (30+ rentals, traditional B&B’s, and boutique hotels).
  • As part of this process we removed 4,780 listings, nearly 70% of which had not been booked in the six months prior to PTR implementation.

The settlement agreement and implementation of the registration system are part of a series of actions we’ve taken to be a good partner with the City and part of a larger commitment to building a community-based platform. In 2015, we released the Airbnb Policy Compact which outlines our commitment to pay our fair share of taxes, make data available so cities can make informed decisions about home sharing policies, and develop specific solutions for the unique needs of different cities. Since releasing the Compact, we have entered into partnerships with more than 400 cities across the world.

In our hometown of San Francisco, the registration system allows hosts to continue sharing their homes to earn supplemental income and support local, inclusive and sustainable tourism to the City while addressing key community concerns raised in the past. This reflects an effort to align interests so that both the City and our hosts benefit.

In addition, the registration system provides current and future hosts with the certainty and clarity to legally share their home in San Francisco. These hosts serve as a strong foundation for the growth of our business going forward.

We are appreciative of the City’s hard work to implement the registration system. In the coming months we will continue working with them to ensure they have all tools necessary to enforce short-term rental laws and the system works for our host community.