Board approves housing rule that will target corporate hotelization

The illegal practice known as corporate hotelization could be shut down under a law adopted Tuesday by the Board of ?Supervisors.

When corporations sign long-term apartment leases but then allow short-term stays, other residents complain of feeling like they are living in a hotel. The practice also takes away housing that could otherwise go to San Franciscans.

A 1981 law prohibits occupancy for less than 30 days in apartment buildings with four or more units, but corporations are skirting the law by renting out the units to visiting employees for just a few days or weeks at a time, according to complaints from residents and city officials.

But legislation introduced by board President David Chiu, which was approved Tuesday in an 11-0 vote, increases enforcement to stop the practice.

“Based on rent board records, dozens of these units are leased by corporate entities,” Chiu said. “This practice has not only created quality-of-life issues for neighbors, but it’s also taken limited housing opportunities away from city residents.”

The legislation creates an administrative hearing process for the Department of Building Inspection to evaluate complaints and empowers residents with the ability to seek legal recourse by enlisting the services of nonprofit organizations.

While Chiu’s effort tackles one housing practice that residents have cried foul over, it does not address the emerging “shared” housing services, such as Airbnb, that tenants can use to rent out portions of or entire apartments for short- or ?long-term stays.

Chiu said he is working to come up with regulations for these services. One proposal being examined is a process for neighbors to complain about visitors’ behavior to ensure that the services are not displacing long-term tenants. Another addresses how to tax such a business model.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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