Chiu introduces legislation seeking to restrict use of short-term housing rental services such as Airbnb

David Chiu introduced a proposal that he says will force Airbnb users to pay hotel tax.

San Francisco is clamping down on Airbnb and similar online housing services amid increasing concerns over the illegal short-term rentals and the dodging of The City’s hotel tax.

After working on legislation for more than a year, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced his proposal Tuesday that he says will lead to the payment of the hotel tax and protect the housing stock from being transformed into de facto hotels.

Airbnb users, according to Chiu, range from renters who are just looking to rent out their apartment for a week or two to tenants or building owners who take multiple units off the market and effectively turn them into “year-round hotels.”


The legislation would prohibit the so-called “hotelization” of housing units and instead allow only tenants who live in their units at least nine months annually to use the rental services.

“We are not going to allow second homes or vacation homes rented short term by owners nor allow tenants to use multiple leases for side hotel businesses,” Chiu said.

The ordinance does not impact tenants’ leases with landlords, which may prohibit subleasing units.

Tenants would have to register with The City every two years for a $50 fee, and those in rent-controlled buildings could not receive more than their rent owed to the landlord per month.

In a statement posted on its website, Airbnb said it supports the proposal but noted some elements “could be problematic to our hosting community, including a registration system that could make some of their personal information public.”

The legislation would require Airbnb and similar services to collect and remit The City’s 14 percent hotel tax.

Ted Gullicksen, executive director of the San Francisco Tenants Union, said the group has expressed support for the proposal, calling on The City to crack down on the “thousands of rent-controlled units” that have been permanently converted to tourist use.

The proposal is the latest effort by a local jurisdiction reacting to technology services employing a so-called sharing economy that often tests or circumvents local laws.

The ordinance would first require review by the Planning Commission before moving on to supervisors.

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