Busted: New San Francisco Report Shows that Most Airbnb Hosts Don’t Follow the Law

Airbnb is in hot water (again) in its home city. As of February 2015, San Francisco law requires all short-term rental hosts to obtain a business registration certificate.

We wrote back in January that Airbnb’s own CEO was caught renting out his apartment for at least 11 months without registering with the city after regulations were passed last February.

Not surprisingly, the company he helms clearly views the law as optional. A new city report finds that 26% of all Airbnb listings in San Francisco are rented for more than the legal limit of 90 nights per year. Even worse, more than three-quarters of hosts are unregistered, despite host registration being a key component of city law on short-term rentals. As city Supervisor David Campos said: “This damning report makes it clear that it would be irrational to rely on Airbnb and the industry to self-regulate.”

It certainly calls into question the sincerity of Airbnb’s “Community Compact.” After all, the company could easily provide data about hosts and listings that are not compliant with local regulations. But remember, this is a company that’s counting on illegal commercial operators for a large and growing portion of its revenue. Why, unless forced by regulators, would Airbnb do anything that might stop that cash flow?

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