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The Almighty Buck Government

SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals 319

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-stay-out dept.
JoeyRox (2711699) writes "The city of San Francisco is aggressively enforcing its ban on short-term rentals. SF resident Jeffrey Katz recently came home to an eviction notice posted on his door that read 'You are illegally using the premises as a tourist or transient unit.' According to Edward Singer, an attorney with Zacks & Freedman who filed the notice against Katz, 'Using an apartment for short-term rentals is a crime in San Francisco.' Apparently Airbnb isn't being very helpful to residents facing eviction. 'Unfortunately, we can't provide individual legal assistance or review lease agreements for our 500,000 hosts, but we do try to help inform people about these issues,' according to David Hantman, Airbnb head of global public policy. SF and Airbnb are working on a framework which might make Airbnb rentals legal, an effort helped by Airbnb's decision last week to start collecting the city's 14% hotel tax by summer."
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SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals

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  • Read your lease... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:48PM (#46687585)
    Do people really not read these things. No subletting is a common clause.

    http://www.sfrb.org/index.aspx?page=1040
    • by Yebyen (59663)

      Not just that... even renters whose leases do not forbid sublet, or actual property owners, are not allowed to rent for terms less than 30 days because they likely have not obtained the permit. It's said that this permit is onerous or expensive to obtain and so "is usually ignored."

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        the context here is that rental rates in SF have skyrocketed in recent years, and if landlords can evict long-time tenants they can get the unit on the market for 4x rent. This sounds like predatory landlord practices. Hopefully the city will step in to stop this process.

        • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:15PM (#46687861)
          Predatory _landlord_ practices? So SF implemented these draconian policies that force landlords to rent their property at a fraction of their actual value, essentially subsidizing the renters, and it's the _landlords_ who are being predatory?
          • by Rinikusu (28164) on Monday April 07, 2014 @07:01PM (#46689087)

            Actual value as determined by market distortions (i.e. a lot of people suddenly have a lot of money and are willing to throw money at housing because they realize they want a "cool" place to live. Fuck the guys that made it cool, fuck the guys that have been living in there for 50+ years and can no longer afford anywhere else in the city to live).

            I mean, seriously, talk about picking the shitty side of the argument.. the rentiers are no heroes, but have some perspective.

            • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @07:15PM (#46689207)

              I'm all for championing the cause of the people you mentioned, but rent control actually increases market rates and leads to underutilization of the existing housing.

              Even rent control, when used for it's intended purpose, doesn't really bother me. But when the below-market renter turns around and rents out at full-market rates, they deserve to be evicted. Rent control gives renters the right to continue living in a property, not the right to profit from a property they do not own.

        • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:16PM (#46687867) Homepage Journal

          Maybe this it or not, but if people are subletting, then they are in violation of their lease. What do you want the city to do? strike down every no subletting contract?

          • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

            One thing the city can do is clarify and place a cap on what it means to be "subletting". Renting out your place for a month or three on airbnb? subletting. having someone stay there over the weekend? not subletting. Also I get the feeling that landlords are just searching airbnb for listings rather than proving that subletting is actually happening. not a crime to list your apartment.

            • by onepoint (301486)

              sub-letting is when you let someone pay you ( exchange of anysort ) for the space, be it for 1 minute or 1 year under your contract. just like shared computer time and giving up your cpu priority on the server to someone else.

        • Hell no... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:34PM (#46688091)

          the context here is that rental rates in SF have skyrocketed in recent years, and if landlords can evict long-time tenants they can get the unit on the market for 4x rent.

          Irrelevant. You expect your landlord to uphold his end of the lease, why should he not expect you to uphold your end of lease.

          This sounds like predatory landlord practices.

          It sounds to me like landlords enforcing the rental agreement. The agreement is between the renter and the landlord, not some unknown unvetted third party.

          I'm not sure I want to live in a building where other renters are sub renting to random people on a daily basis. Seriously, these people need to get a hotel room, and if they can't afford a hotel room, well, what could go wrong?

        • by Catbeller (118204)

          Nope. They won't. Renters are peons. No leverage. The leverage is money. Too many rich people, too many trust funds. Better for the landlords (capital funds will buy up the good units very soon now) to evict and replace with more affluent renters - or even better, write some new laws so the landlords can rent the units out at AirBnB prices themselves. Why not?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This sounds like predatory landlord practices. Hopefully the city will step in to stop this process.

          For those of us who aren't in the real estate business, maybe you can explain. How is this a predatory landlord practice, when it's caused by the government enacting laws that say people need special permits to sublet for less than 30 days? Repeal the law and you remove the "predation." Isn't the problem caused by the city government "stepping in" and causing the practice to become illegal?

          I get it that

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:10PM (#46687805)

      It's banned by the city even if your lease allows it. It's so the city can collect its special 14% hotel tax.

    • Do people really not read these things. No subletting is a common clause.

      http://www.sfrb.org/index.aspx... [sfrb.org]

      QFT. I rent out a property and screen my tenants carefully. If I learned they were subleasing to random Internet strangers it would not be ok with me.

  • Adventure holiday! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:50PM (#46687601)

    You can stay with a random SF resident.

    Could be a furry, could be a militant lesbian. The only thing guaranteed, it won't be boring.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      You can stay with a random SF resident.

      Could be a furry, could be a militant lesbian. The only thing guaranteed, it won't be boring.

      Yeah, you'll probably found your car has been towed by the city (even if it isn't there - this is a major source of tourism income)

      • by Arker (91948)
        "Yeah, you'll probably found your car has been towed by the city (even if it isn't there - this is a major source of tourism income)"

        OK my mind is blown.

        Please explain to me how SF can make money by towing the car that I left behind in my home state?

        The fees would have to be quite outrageous just to cover their gas!
    • could be a furry

      What's wrong with that? I'm not a furry as it happens, but I don't quite understand why they seem to be the whipping boys if the internet. It's not like they're Republicans or aything...

      • They are not unlike Emos.

        If you go through life looking/acting like a refugee from a Dr.Seuss book you should expect to be mocked.

        People who fuck through holes (in costumes, bathroom walls or bed sheets) deserve to be laughed and pointed at.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        My guess? They're a minority population with an oft-sexual fascination with something most people find strange or disgusting. What's not to mock? After all we're no longer allowed to mock blacks or gays since they didn't choose to be the way they are. But furries? They're voluntarily weird outsiders, let the tribalistic bashing commence.

        What I find slightly strange is that the tendency is in full swing even on geek-oriented sites - you'd think there'd be a certain level of truce between weird outsider

  • "'You are illegally using the premises as a tourist"

    Tourism is illegal in SF now huh?

    • by Shatrat (855151)

      Like Al Capone, the real crime is not paying taxes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775)
      unless you are from mexico, than its just called "enjoying the dream"
    • by hawguy (1600213)

      "'You are illegally using the premises as a tourist"

      Tourism is illegal in SF now huh?

      It's not the Tourists that are renting the units that are in violation of the lease clauses and short-term rental laws, it's the tenants that are renting them out that are responsible.

  • A friend of mine got a similar notice in Oakland last year. Shut down or be evicted. It's a shame. She provided a better place to stay than any reasonably priced hotel.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      A friend of mine got a similar notice in Oakland last year. Shut down or be evicted. It's a shame. She provided a better place to stay than any reasonably priced hotel.

      So how was her insurance coverage for the guests? Or to protect herself if someone sued her?

      Better? Maybe. Riskier? .. Definitely.

      • by sycodon (149926)

        That's pretty much her problem, isn't it?

        But, the State knows much better than the citizen I guess.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Another case of people making money by skirting rules and regulation that everyone else in the industry abides by.

          JSYK: Hotel guests and tenants have different rights. So to anyone doing this sort of thing with a resident should be wary, you could get a guest you refuses to leave and you will need to go through the tenet eviction process as opposed to the hotel eviction process.

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          That's pretty much her problem, isn't it?

          But, the State knows much better than the citizen I guess.

          If you're going to run a business (which it sounds like she basically was) it behooves you to protect yourself - regardless if you are flying above or below the radar. Anything else is being foolish.

          • by sycodon (149926)

            It behooves one's self to do a lot of things. The State shouldn't be telling me what I have to "behoove".

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          That's pretty much her problem, isn't it?

          But, the State knows much better than the citizen I guess.

          Well no, it's the problem of the person renting the unit when they find out that after some incident happens that the person that rented them the place has no liability insurance and no assets to recover damages from. A short-term renter shouldn't have to do a full background check and insurance coverage check before they rent a place for the night -- that's why we have consumer protection laws like required liability insurance for commercial establishments. The same thing should apply to ride-share service

          • by sycodon (149926)

            Blah Blah Blah...the same old, "you're too stupid and need the State's protection" argument.

  • by donutman (966616) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:58PM (#46687693)
    The city of SF is not enforcing anything - it's the landlords. In SF, most units are covered by rent control, meaning most people are paying rents far below the market value. Landlord are prohibited from increasing rents or kicking out current tenets unless they violate their lease. So any lease violation, such as subleasing, can be used as an excuse to evict the tenet and get one that will pay the current market value.
    • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:05PM (#46687753)
      From the article:

      "People who rent out space on Airbnb, VRBO and other markets for temporary housing are facing fines by the City Planning Department and eviction on the grounds of illegally operating hotels."
      • by DRJlaw (946416) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:26PM (#46687967)

        There's a difference between:

        "People who rent out space on Airbnb, VRBO and other markets for temporary housing are facing fines by the City Planning Department and eviction on the grounds of illegally operating hotels."

        and

        "People who rent out space on Airbnb, VRBO and other markets for temporary housing are facing fines and eviction by the City Planning Department on the grounds of illegally operating hotels."

        Can you spot it?

        You should also read this article [sfaa.org] analyzing the issue from an owner's perspective. You'll note that it doesn't suggest that the San Francisco has the ability to evict the tenant... merely to fine the landlord.

        Finally, the actual code [archive.org] (warning: very large text document) lists several penalties, none of which include eviction. You're looking for Section 41A.5, "Unlawful Conversion," page 3902.

        • OK, so if you want to be specific, landlords are threatening to evict tenants as a result of the fines being imposed on the landlords as a result of the tenants' behavior.

          • by JoeyRox (2711699)
            Exactly. And even more specifically, when it comes time to evict someone who refuses to leave, the city would enforce that as well via the sheriff's department.
            • by DRJlaw (946416)

              Exactly. And even more specifically, when it comes time to evict someone who refuses to leave, the city would enforce that as well via the sheriff's department.

              At that point you may as well announce that the City of San Francisco is aggressively enforcing a ban on dogs in leased apartments, or smokers in leased apartments, or practicing your heavy metal set in leased apartments. Law enforcement will step in in any instance in which someone refuses to leave after a valid eviction.

              The article says that there

        • by JoeyRox (2711699)
          Yes, and nothing in the summary suggested that the city of SF is the party performing the convictions. In fact, the summary specifically stated the contrary:

          SF resident Jeffrey Katz recently came home to an eviction notice posted on his door that read 'You are illegally using the premises as a tourist or transient unit.' According to Edward Singer, an attorney with Zacks & Freedman who filed the notice against Katz, 'Using an apartment for short-term rentals is a crime in San Francisco.'
      • by DRJlaw (946416)

        From the article:

        "People who rent out space on Airbnb, VRBO and other markets for temporary housing are facing fines by the City Planning Department and eviction on the grounds of illegally operating hotels."

        BTW: I realize that the GP said that the City of San Fancisco was not enforcing "anything" and that you're correctly rebutting that. However, the substance of GP's post concerned the evictions, not the fines.

        The article reads as if landlords are jumping the city's process, particularly since there's no

    • In SF, most units are covered by rent control, meaning most people are paying rents far below the market value. Landlord are prohibited from increasing rents or kicking out current tenets unless they violate their lease.

      Not quite. Generally, any building built in SF after June 1979 is not subject to rent control. And landlords can in fact raise rents on tenants without a lease violation - they can raise rents once a year (at a rate tied to inflation). Additionally, landlords can also pass on certain capital improvement and operations/maintenance costs to tenants in rent controlled units.

      Of course, if a tenant moves out, a landlord may then charge market value rent to the new tenant.

  • Horse hockey (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jratcliffe (208809) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:01PM (#46687727)

    "'Unfortunately, we can't provide individual legal assistance or review lease agreements for our 500,000 hosts, but we do try to help inform people about these issues,'

    Bullcrap. If they wanted to actually ensure that their rentals were legal, they could do vastly more to ensure that. In NYC, for example, any whole unit rental (where the lessor isn't going to be there as well) of 30 days is illegal if the unit isn't a licensed hotel. If you try to post a property for a non-roommate rental in NYC, they could have the site simply say "Is this unit a licensed hotel? If not, then the rental would violate NYC law. Please confirm that the unit is a licensed hotel unit. Yes/No"

    They don't even bother with this level of fig leaf.

    • Not their job to enforce laws.

      If they aren't doing anything illegal, it's all good. If their hosts can get away with it, it's all good.

      Rules were made to be broken.

  • These are the criminals our police and lawyers need to be expending time against.

  • We don't need protecting from ourselves. We do not need a hotel tax. In fact, we don't need any taxes except sales tax. But as soon as it is allowed to collect taxes, government invents new reasons to tax. That's because government is in business for itself. We're just the suckers who pay for it

  • SF and Airbnb are working on a framework which might make Airbnb rentals legal, an effort helped by Airbnb's decision last week to start collecting the city's 14% hotel tax by summer.

    This is what we used to call corruption. Or, before that, "tribute to the king."

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:01PM (#46688403)

    San Francisco isn't the first city to do this, Paris [nytimes.com] for example has had a similar law for years but only until 2010 started enforcing it. It's meant to drive tourism to Hotels for all the tax base benefits and to address the problem of affordable housing. AirBNB is a great idea but like Uber is allowing some cities to start abusing their citizens by preventing them from doing legal commerce that they can't control or tax.

  • Really. Can't rent an apartment there, can't rent a hotel room there, can't breath the air there without a trust fund. Godz forbid we should find a way not to pay the rapacious owners of San Francisco even more money. No, this is not the way the free market goes, Rand Fans. This market will never be "free". It's monopoly of space. Space is limited. There's too much money in the city. Prices go up. Eventually the place is full of empty apartments owned by capital funds and by Saudi and Colombian investors, a

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