AirBNB Imposes Taxes And Limits Before Local Governments Can Make Them

If home-rental service AirBNB regulates itself, will municipalities stop trying to reach in and regulate it? After voters defeated a proposed law that would have severely limited short-term rentals in the company’s hometown of San Francisco, AirBNB has realized that maybe they should be better citizens of the cities where they do business… and regulate their hosts before local governments do.

In a blog post today, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky explains that “it’s become clear that we need to clarify what we will and will not tolerate in our community.” One issue that has come up in large cities where housing is in demand is landlords who turn apartments into full-time hotels, which is more lucrative than renting to regular old tenants.

Notably, it’s a problem in San Francisco, which is why the proposed Proposition F limited home rentals to 75 days per year. That can’t be a full-time business. That’s why Chesky writes that part of the company’s new Community Compact will be:

In cities where there is a shortage of long-term housing, we are committed to working with our community to prevent short-term rentals from impacting the availability of long term housing by ensuring hosts agree to a policy of listing only permanent homes on a short-term basis.

In other words: you can maybe rent out a vacant apartment between tenants, but not turn what should be regular housing stock into a place for tourists. Renting out your place while you’re out of town is good; renting it out all the time is bad.

Another issue is taxes: AirBNB has fought the idea of charging and passing on hotel taxes, and finally is doing so in San Francisco. Part of the company’s campaign against Proposition F consisted of passive-aggressive billboards telling local government how to spend the taxes that it finally contributed. They later apologized for those ads and took them down.

“We are committed to treating every city personally and helping ensure our community pays its fair share of hotel and tourist taxes,” Chesky writes. After spending $8 million to defeat Proposition F, AirBNB evidntly doesn’t want to go through that again in other cities.

Our Commitment to Communities Around the World [AirBNB]

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