Airbnb Will Gently Nag Hosts In San Francisco Instead Of Requiring City Registration

Airbnb’s hometown of San Francisco voted down a proposition that would have limited the number of days per year that a host on the service can rent out a room or property, with the goal of keeping scarce housing stock as housing, not places for tourists. Yet the company is preparing for similar future battles in San Francisco and in other cities, and will start by nagging hosts in San Francisco.

Here’s where Airbnb’s approach to local laws gets a little bit tricky. Hosts in San Francisco are supposed to register with the city to avoid violating laws against short-term rentals. The company has offered to help hosts to register, but has not offered to cross-reference and take down the listings of hosts who aren’t registered.

Airbnb has made a new promise to the city of San Francisco to send e-mails and paper letters twice a month to hosts within the city who haven’t registered yet, hoping to gently nag them into doing so. What they haven’t done is responded to a request from the city that the site require hosts to display their city registration numbers on their profiles: the offer to nag their hosts is apparently the company’s counter-offer.

New York City is also an expensive market and tourist magnet, and in that city, Airbnb provided a large data dump meant to prove that most of its hosts are not scheming landlords who have dedicated apartments in hot neighborhoods to the tourist trade.

Airbnb’s Latest Weapon in Full-Time Landlord Crackdown: E-Mail and Letters [Bloomberg]
Airbnb to share registration information with hosts [San Francisco Examiner]