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Airbnb Sues Hometown San Francisco to Block Rental Rules

So instead of working on arrangements to collect transient occupancy taxes for local jurisdictions, AirBnB’s lawyers have been spending their time on this…

This really makes me ashamed to be so involved with AirBnB. Maybe it’s a sign that running their business legally and fairly wouldn’t be profitable?

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AirBnB was a nice and friendly puppy, now it is a hungry out of control Wolf that will snap at everything in its way, even its own hosts.

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@Lucy_R SF host here, and the situation is a little different than Air not wanting to pay taxes.

SF passed a law in 2014 that hosts have to go through a permit process to host legally and Air BNB will pay the TOT(transient occupancy tax) on our behalf to the city. TOT is a part of any SF reservation you book. SF got mad because barely any hosts registered for the permits, bc the original process was laborious and had not been completely ‘approved’ by a general vote…fast forward to Nov 2015 when another law was passed upholding the 2014 permitting law, and telling hosts if you don’t register you are subject to a $500/day penalty, and we the city of SF are now enforcing the penalty. Fast fast forward to June 2016 when still 75% of host in SF are unregistered, and the city just passed a law that would fine Air/ Homeaway/etc $1000/day per unpermitted unit for listing unregistered units. Air has started this lawsuit because they do not think people listing unpermitted units is within their control, and they should not be held liable, etc.

Air isn’t trying to skip out on taxes, as regardless of permit status Air is still collecting TOT. They are trying to not be fined for letting unpermitted hosts be on their platform. Not saying that is any better, but that’s the long and short of the drama.

PS- The permit registration is beyond EASY, the city of SF revamped it to take about .5- 1 hour as a walk in appointment, $50, and you get your permit in 7 days. There is really no reason to not get registered, unless you do not meet the permit criteria, which includes multiple entire apartments/homes in SF(basically prop mgrs) or you are a renter and do not have landlord approval.

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Here in Florida it takes even less, it took me 10 min and 86$

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Ah, sorry if my phrasing wasn’t helpful - I didn’t mean to suggest that I thought AirBnB were tax dodging in SF. I lived there until a couple of months ago, so am woefully familiar with the ongoing drama :unamused:

It just bothers me that their legal dept is sinking more money into what appears to be a loosing battle against the city, rather than demonstrating a commitment to responsible practices by helping hosts get permitted and collecting TOT in more jurisdictions. As you said, SF is one example of a place where the permitting is actually relatively straightforward, so it would be a great place to start.

No worries!! This lawsuit has been plastered everywhere, and most people don’t really understand what it is about, so I just wanted to provide some back story. I agree with the idea Air should just play nice with local laws, be a good member of society, and spend their money helping people get registered.

However, the argument they are making with this lawsuit, does make a valid point, that they(air Bnb) are not responsibly for posters (hosts) to their forum to have the proper permits. Its an interesting tactic.

I think it would be completely reasonable for the AirBNB platform to require that we enter a permit or license # before we can complete a listing. AirBNB cannot expect cash-strapped cities to shoulder the cost of enforcement while they reap millions in profits from illegal listings.

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The plot thickens…in SF there was a field for the permit number, however, Air removed it! Yes, removed it after they won the last ballot measure in Nov '15. I, along with other hosts in SF, have repeatedly asked for it to come back, but they say they no longer offer a ‘permit field’. They really do not want to be at all responsible for knowing/not knowing if you have a permit.

I completely agree, Air needs to show communities they care and want to help make STRs better, not litigate to get their way

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AirBnB is changing from a community thing to a money hungry monster.

Their main goal is making money trough hosts, they do not care if the hosts are doing anything illegal, as long as they make money.

For AirBnB it is very easy to check licences and tax numbers etc, they just do not want to it, because that means loosing hosts.

Maybe they will eventually go to a system like Uber where you have to provide proof of license, insurance, etc. for you listing to go live.

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