Airbnb hosts will need to register with city of San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The rules are changing for people in San Francisco who rent out their rooms to visitors. The "Airbnb law" takes effect Monday. ABC7 News spoke with one city supervisor that is trying to put it on hold.

Just like a contractor going for a building permit, San Franciscans who want to offer their homes or rooms for short-term rental will have to apply.

And Airbnb hosts like Kepa Askenasy will have to register in person at the Planning Department. She said, "I think it's a very, very good start."

She'll have to get a business license, offer proof she lives in her house most of the year, that she has at least $500,000 in liability insurance, and other documentation. Askenasy who has had more than 1,000 visitors rent from her over the last few years, hopes the new legislation will legitimize reputable hosts.

"Where the host is there, that it's not taking housing from San Franciscans, it's not turning multi-unit buildings into hotels -- that kind of thing -- it'll weed out those players," Askenasy said.

San Francisco Supervisor David Campos voted against the law and has authored an amendment that would put it on hold. He told ABC7 News, "We are legalizing Airbnb's operations without requiring the very basic thing every business should do, which is to pay their back taxes."

Airbnb started paying the city's hotel taxes in October, but Campos estimates the company owes $25-28 million for the six years it has been in business. In a statement, Airbnb says they "are already engaged in a formal process with the Treasurer's office regarding back taxes and we are eager to discuss a resolution."

The supervisor's hearing is next month. Meantime, the Planning Department is ramping up for the registration process which starts Monday.

"We receive thousands and thousands of applications each year for some sort of building activities, so this is really just another component of that," San Francisco planning director John Rahaim.

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