San Francisco Legislative Update for 2015: Amending Regulation of Short-Term Residential Rentals and Establishing Fee


Ordinance 218-14 will become operative on February 1, 2015. It is a big piece of a broader effort by San Francisco to regulate AirBnb, VRBO and other hosting platforms in the increasingly popular “sharing economy”. The changes impact the eviction provisions of the Rent Ordinance, as well as the interpretation of this kind of use within the Residential Unit Conversion Ordinance. The short version is that owners may not offer rental units on hosting platforms, and tenants might be able to, under certain conditions.

In order to comply, a tenant has to register the unit with the new Planning Department registry for keeping track of transient use. They have to obtain insurance and a business license, pay the transient occupancy tax. They must occupy the unit for at least 275 days out of the year (or 75% of a prorated year), and they cannot profit off the “subletting” (to the extent they are subject to the rent-control provisions of Section 37.3 of the Rent Ordinance).

This new exception expressly does not supersede restrictions against housing platform listings in CC&Rs, leases or TIC agreements, so, as with many landlord-tenant issues, the first place to check for authorization is the lease agreement itself.

The biggest change for landlords is probably the new language in Rent Ordinance Section 37.9(a)(4): “The tenant is using or permitting a rental unit to be used for any illegal purpose, provided however that a landlord shall not endeavor to recover possession of a rental unit solely as a result of a first violation of Chapter 41A that has been cured within 30 days written notice to the tenant.” (New language in bold.)

Legislative language available here.