Airbnb Warns WeHo Apartment Renters to Follow City Laws

With so-called “shared economy” businesses under study now by a city task force, Airbnb has posted an advisory on its website reminding owners and tenants of West Hollywood apartments that they must follow city regulations regarding short-term rentals.

airbnbFollowing those regulations, however, would take most of the West Hollywood apartments listed on Airbnb off the market. Those regulations effectively ban any apartment or home rentals for fewer than 30 days.

“When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it is important for you to understand the laws in your city,” says Airbnb. “As a platform and marketplace we do not provide legal advice, but we want to give you some useful links that may help you better understand laws and regulations in West Hollywood. This list is not exhaustive, but it should give you a good start in understanding your local laws. If you have questions, contact the Planning division, the Code Compliance division or other city agencies directly, or consult a local lawyer or tax professional.”

The Airbnb notice includes links to the city’s Code Compliance office and other offices. The mention of a tax professional is a reference to the city’s hotel room occupancy tax, which hotels are required to pay on rooms they have rented to guests.

A number of local landlords and tenants have expressed concern on finding that apartments they owned or tht were occupied by their neighbors were being rented for a few days or weeks to tourists.

“It’s wrong on so many levels,” said leasing specialist Marco Colantonio, who manages two local apartment buildings. He said that Airbnb takes away a landlord’s right to choose who to have in his building and that under-the-radar visitors raise concerns about safety because the guests aren’t subject to screening as are tenants.

Earlier this year, Jeff Aubel, West Hollywood’s code compliance manager, said the city has received complaints from apartment residents about short-term rentals in their buildings and that 15 property owners believed to be illegally renting out space have been issued cease and desist orders.

Yet Airbnb lists hundreds of West Hollywood apartment and rooms for short-term rent — with a count of more than 400 today.

Aubel said that using dwellings for short-term or vacation rentals violates WeHo’s zoning ordinance, which bars renting an apartment or room for fewer than 30 days. Someone who rents for fewer than 30 days faces a fine of $250 for the first violation, $450 for the second, $750 for the third and possible criminal charges for a fourth violation.

At the request of City Council members Abbe Land and John Heilman, the city this summer established a “shared economy” task force to look at the impact of services such as Airbnb and others like Uber and Lyft, which offer unregulated taxi services provided by local drivers.

Airbnb was launched in 2007 by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who were offering air mattresses and breakfast for up to three guests a night to help them cover the cost of their San Francisco apartment. Today Airbnb has gone global, with 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. It is the exemplar of the so-called “peer to peer” marketplace in which individuals offer one another products and services without having to go through retailers or business owners.

Shared economy services serve as extra sources of revenue for individuals, while also providing efficient and affordable services to those that use them. However, there is debate across the country about the violation of existing municipal regulatory schemes and zoning codes by such services and their impact on sources of city revenue such as hotel taxes and taxi franchise fees.


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Alison
Guest
Alison

I saw a video yesterday, where Air BnB guests caused between $50-70K in damage to a house in 3 days. Just destroyed it. They had invited about 100 guests, according to neighbors, and had a “drug infused orgy” (haha). Police were called multiple times in that 3 days. All Air BnB did was cancel their accounts and police are looking for the person who originally booked the house for rental.

The homeowners are devastated. They are stuck with the cleanup and repairs.

Think about that before you rent your place out.

LA2000
Guest
LA2000

I am all for free market, but this is becoming a serious issue. One of the reasons that rent is sky high is because certain landlords and property management firms have begun quietly converting apartment rental units into AirBNB units, thereby reducing the overall supply of traditional rental units on the market and driving up rents for the units that remain. The reason is simple: a studio renting at $1500 a month earns $50 per day. That same unit as an AirBNB property might earn $150 per day or more. This is great for tourists who will have a variety… Read more »

WehoBrian
Guest
WehoBrian

I am opposed to airbnb because it is stealing tax dollars from WeHo residents.

Cy Husain
Guest
Cy Husain

Kurt, where did Emilija say that she is calling on manicipalities like West Hollywood to regulate companies like Uber and Lyft? Her comment appears more specific to AirBnB and “shared economy” businesses in general. She was the one who emailed me some time go about the problem with news links that voiced the same concern.

Love Airbnb
Guest
Love Airbnb

The VAST majority of residents who list the apartment on Airbnb rent it out only occasionally when they go on vacation. And the vast majority of Airbnb guests behave quietly and respectfully. Guests get rated by residents so if they behave badly, they will not be rented to again by anyone in the Airbnb community. So this is really much ado about nothing.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

The CPUC California Public Utilities Commission regulates Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft, not municipalities like West Hollywood.

Emilija Torbešic
Guest

California is the first State to regulate transportation network companies (TNCs).The California Public Utilities Commission voted 5-0 at the San Francisco hearing to pass some new rules that create a new class of “transportation network companies” (TNCs). Technically these services are not considered “ridesharing” under the CPUC’s definition, which defines ridesharing as practices such as casual carpool but, I argue they should be!

Emilija Torbešic
Guest

Now it would be nice if someone would remind landlords and real-estate barons to follow the Law! Corporations, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and, other con-artists are riding the sharing economy wave like to call it a “benevolent disruption” — the organic evolution of inefficient markets that comes from empowering regular Americans (mainly white males) to maximize their own assets. What this nonsense really is, a con-job from master manipulators in Silicon Valley and their Wall Street buddies. The “sharing economy” is a reductive term that blurs the line between groundbreaking enterprises that tap into unused resources and charlatans looking for a… Read more »

Dan
Guest
Dan

There is a big difference between AirBnB and Uber/Lyft.

Larrabee Grouch
Guest
Larrabee Grouch

Airbnb guests need to follow same rules as actual tenants. Often they do not and do not care and those of who have to live there suffer. There is one “luxury” building on Palm, charging more than 3k a month for two bedrooms, that has basically become a transient Airbnb frat house. Even though the building looks nice and has upgraded units, I would not want to live in a place where my neighbors are always partying and always changing.

JoeP
Guest
JoeP

I think that if you want to level the playing field, since I am a hotelier owner, and pay taxes on everything and bond insurance, and every other permit that is expected… That it gets costly every year, just to run a business. AND I wish that they ban every one of these and fine then from taking moneys out of my pocket. With that said, either they can make sure the hotel, guesthouse, hostel, rental or whatever is having short or long stays for guests… Just put their hotel ID number on the site to find out if its… Read more »

Jay Waterman
Guest

The future is NOW. Laws are man made and they need to keep up with the Digital Age. Our global economy is transforming into new, innovative, and exciting models. Yes there are these bad actors in the Airbnb model and they need to go away and allow those who are providing a unique travel experience to flourish. Airbnb is not for everybody but there’s always room for everybody. This includes the Hotel industry. Embrace the future. You may need it someday.

Tom Smart
Guest
Tom Smart

Yes James, and it’s a TIDAL WAVE. We’ve had people in and out of a unit in the building next door to us who have caused many issues, like very loud, drunken parties into the early morning. They get to wreak havoc before the off-site landlord finds out, then flee to their real homes. Landlords need hold tenants accountable to what’s in their lease and WEHO laws, or kick them out.