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The Almighty Buck Government

SF Evictions Surging From Crackdown On Airbnb Rentals 319

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.
  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:51PM (#46687607) Homepage Journal

    It's the usual for tourist areas: You want to soak the tourists, who don't vote in your area, for as much tax money as you can. Thus the double-digit tax percentages on things that only tourists normally use, such as hotels.

    Also restaurant taxes specifically aimed at sit-down places that 'tourists' normally visit more often, etc...

  • by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:53PM (#46687627)

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

    Tourism is illegal in SF now huh?

  • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @04:56PM (#46687667) Homepage
    unless you are from mexico, than its just called "enjoying the dream"
  • 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.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:10PM (#46687811)

    It's the usual for tourist areas: You want to soak the tourists, who don't vote in your area, for as much tax money as you can. Thus the double-digit tax percentages on things that only tourists normally use, such as hotels.

    Also restaurant taxes specifically aimed at sit-down places that 'tourists' normally visit more often, etc...

    It's also to benefit the long-term residents. Living in a short-term rental facility (i.e. a hotel) is much different than living in an apartment building with long-term residents. The new guy who moves in down the hall is only going to have to ask you once where the recycle bins are and isn't going to continually dump his trash in those bins because he "didn't know" they were for recycling only, he's not going to come into the building at 1am with his loud talkative family and loads of luggage rolling down the halls, and likely has a 9-5 job just like you so he's probably not staying out late every night to take in the sights.

    Well before AirBnb, I lived in an apartment building where one tenant rented his apartment out for short-term stays (and his tenants were guilty of all of the above) -- the long-term residents complained to the landlord and he put a stop to it.

  • 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 geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> 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 hjf ( 703092 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:54PM (#46688329) Homepage

    Nope. In most places, the usual is to tell the client the *FINAL* price, all taxes included. Discriminating sales tax is mostly a US thing only.

    Here in Argentina it's illegal to tell a (final) client the price without VAT. For non-final clients (resellers for example), it's usually expressed as "Price (+VAT)", and rarely as "Price (VAT included)".

  • by Curunir_wolf ( 588405 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @05:56PM (#46688347) Homepage Journal

    "Illegal activity" in this case, being that the little people aren't allowed to engage in free enterprise without greasing some palms.

  • by chuckugly ( 2030942 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:36PM (#46688799)
    So don't live there, "problem" solved.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:44PM (#46688903)

    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 municipal governments want their hotel tax revenue. Presumably they would also like to have a "red shirt tax" too. That doesn't mean it's sane for people to support such a government, though.

  • by Albanach ( 527650 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:46PM (#46688921) Homepage

    Doesn't free enterprise also include the freedom to enter contracts. If your contract with your landlord says you cannot sublet, are you arguing that the contract should be unenforceable?

    As for the tax, we rely on a number of services that are paid for through taxes. It's fine to object to the bedroom tax, many hotel owners do. It's less fine to opt out of taxation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:49PM (#46688961)

    This happens in all the massive cities where Progressivism rules. The progressive elites have all the money and make all the rules (huge piles of rules and regulations and laws and taxes which the filthy-rich can easily afford to have their employees deal with) and then, because they need their cheap servants close-by they allow schemes like "rent-control" which stupid dupes think is to benefit the poor and middle-class but what it actually does is give complete control to the elites. THEY decide where the rent-control rules apply, how many units are covered, what circumstances will allow a person to get (or force a person to lose) eligibility, etc; this is complete market manipulation - the very opposite of an Ayn Rand situation. If you are, or ever hope to be, middle class and the progs arise in your city, GET OUT while you still can; it will either go like NYC or SF and be a place where the middle class cannot really live, or go the way of Detroit.

    I'm NOT a big Rand fan, though I do think she got a bunch of stuff right, but for the situation in SF to be in any way a "true Randian paradise" as you put it, there would be no zoning laws, no rent control, no minimum wage, etc (a situation which most young Americans have been propagandized to think is an express elevator ride to some secular form of hell...) but the truth is that such a situation would, of necessity, achieve a natural equilibrium (if it's too expensive to live there, the elites would either lose all their servants, have to raise their pay, or have to provide another solution). In the non-Randian paradise progressives (in BOTH parties) have been gradually converting America into since the 1940's, the elites still have all their power and money, but the burden of providing for their "servants" is pushed onto middle-class taxpayers (who fund all the social "safety net" programs, from subsidized phones, rent, and energy to mass transit and food stamps). The rich want their nannies, gardeners, pool cleaners, etc and can pay them sub-par wages because those workers (who would otherwise move to places where they could afford to live) are instead enabled to lead a subsistence existence supplemented by the "safety net" (which the elite always rig the rules of, to ensure most do not escape it)

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @06:58PM (#46689053)

    I have an apartment. I am legally prevented from charging "market value" for my property due to rent control laws, especially for long term residents.

    Now you happen to be a tenant and you got a really sweet deal on an apartment. However, because you're an asshole, you decide to exploit the difference between what I actually charge you and what the market could actually bear*. And now you're bitching about my actions, which are limited by the law with which I must abide by to do business in the location? Nevermind the no-subletting clause in the contract *you* signed. Because, fuck you, I'm getting mine.

    Jesus fucking christ.

    Self-entitlement is strong in this one.

  • 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 (#46689199)

    This is precisely the problem going on in San Francisco. I come across so many tenants that feel they are doing nothing wrong, all the while bragging on how low their rent is on their rent-controlled apartment. Hypocrisy to the max!

  • 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 Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @07:34PM (#46689365) Journal

    You are correct, but one thing disturbs me - from TFS:

    Using an apartment for short-term rentals is a crime in San Francisco.

    Notice the word "crime". What in the unholy fuck is the City of San Francisco doing by saying that subletting is a crime? I get the whole tax angle (but seriously, I don't; WTF is so special about a hotel that a city - any city - needs a special tax for one?), but damn... just something about calling it a criminal activity that is way the hell wrong.

  • by TheGavster ( 774657 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @08:08PM (#46689613) Homepage

    Generally when municipalities go after micro-rental users (particularly en masse), it's not to enforce the main tenants' leases, but to enforce hotel taxes. A reasonable analysis would say it's a typical case of a private citizen unwittingly crossing the line into small business, a cynical one would say that real hotels lobby for these taxes and push for their enforcement to inflate hotel rates.

  • by anegg ( 1390659 ) on Monday April 07, 2014 @08:25PM (#46689743)
    Is it possible that there is more going on here than the city protecting the city's revenues? If I were the neighbor of someone engaging in the short term rental of a property that was not in an area zoned for short term rentals, I would be very glad that the municipality was cracking down on them. I like to know who my neighbors are; I don't want new ones showing up every week.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @01:34AM (#46691275)

    Go fuck yourself.

    San Francisco's overpaid and underworked bureaucrats need to die in a fire.

    Yes, go fuck yourself. I was born in this town and my wife is one of these "bureaucrats." She works 14 hours days on the local healthcare program (healthysf) that bests Obamacare by far. That "healthy SF" surcharge on your bill at Delfina? That's so that a dishwasher can have medical care, like in civilized European countries, and my spouse built that shit on 14 hour days with no overtime at well under $100k/yr. So fuck you.

    Yes, we'll build a real economy on uber, googleBusses and airBnB!! -- even though every single one of these models supplants an existing, long-fought, long-discussed, long-legislated sector.

    I'm so sick of this shit. "Oh, we fixed the problem!! The (bus/taxi/hotel) problem!!"

    No, you fixed it for you. You fixed a narrow use case. Did you fix it for everyone? Fuck no! Case in point, the Google (/yahoo/linkedIn/Genentech/*/) bus. Did you fix all transport down the peninsula? Does it help me when I want to go the the Tech Museum? NO. Do the private busses block the muni stops, slowing down the actual all-access busses that my tax dollars pay for? Yes!

    Do Uber drivers run people over? YES! Does Uber try to claim no liability because the driver was between fares? YES!

    I could toss out multiple arguments of this sort against every single facet of the "sharing economy". Did I say Fuck You yet?

    It just makes me want to cry and puke, the fact that the brightest minds of the millenial generation are investing all their energy in this shit. You do NOT have a grand vision! Fixing little piecemeal shit that improves an inconvenience or saves 5 minutes for the twitter generation is NOT innovation! Previous generations tried to Really Fix Shit -- tried to solve problems in a general sense. A lot of those people -- like my spouse -- went into Government, since historically this is the job of Governments. Are a lot of those solutions terribly flawed? YES! Absolutely. But goddamit, people have tried, and the system is not broken. I just wish there was a bit more of a spirit of FTFU (fixed that for us) rather than FTFM (fixed that for me!).

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