WeHo City Council Largely Supports Hosted Short-Term Rentals

Most aspects of a proposal to permit short-term housing rentals in WeHo so long as the host is present were supported by the West Hollywood City Council last night, with the exception of allowing such rentals in apartment buildings.

The City Council considered a proposal by the city’s Department of Public Works that it allow such short-term rentals for 18 months, after which their impact would be analyzed to decide whether hosted short-term rentals should be continued. The department’s Code Compliance Division enforces city regulations that currently ban all short-term rentals, whether hosted or not.

The ban on un-hosted short-term rentals would continue. It was designed to prevent owners of housing from taking it off the city’s already tight residential market, thus contributing to rising rents. That ban also is intended to restrict competition with local hotels by unlicensed property owners who don’t pay the hotel room occupancy text or necessarily meet the safety requirements of hotels.

The council asked Code Compliance to bring the proposal back to a future meeting with more information to help it decide three questions:

— Should short-term rentals (defined as those of fewer than 31 days) be restricted to a total of 90 days a year for each property?

— Should the host of a short-term renter in an apartment or condominium be required to show proof that he or she has the written permission of the apartment building owner or of the condo association board?

— Should residents of rent-stabilized apartments be allowed to rent rooms or space out to short-term visitors?

Council members agreed that the homeowner associations of condominium buildings should have the authority to decide whether or not to permit short-term rentals of units in their buildings. While the Code Compliance proposal would require that someone hosting a short-term tenant in his or her apartment get the written permission of the building owner or manager, it doesn’t require that evidence of that permission be presented to Code Compliance when the host applies for a required city permit.

Dan Mick, the city’s code compliance supervisor, said the city wanted to make the process of obtaining a license easy and inexpensive so that more local residents would comply with the law. The city now bans all rentals of fewer than 31 days. But despite that ban, a study conducted for the city by Host Compliance, a firm that monitors online short-term rentals, found that as of March 2017 there were 1,012 short-term rentals available in West Hollywood. The city has roughly 24,500 housing units.

Councilmember John Duran supported requiring evidence of permission from an apartment landlord, noting that most leases ban short-term rentals and that such rentals with a landlord’s permission expose a tenant to possible eviction. Councilmember John Heilman said he didn’t support requiring evidence of permission, and Councilmember Lindsey Horvath said she was wary of “onerous provisions” of the regulation.  Councilmember John D’Amico said he was concerned about a proposed requirement that hosts keep records of short-term visitors over several years. Such records, D’Amico said, would have to be made available to the public and landlords.  D’Amico was an opponent of the council’s original ban on short-term rentals, noting that they were part of a changing economy that the city needed to learn how to adapt to rather than attempt to ban.

The council also heard from local residents, some of who supported the Code Compliance proposal and some of whom spoke against certain aspects of it. David Warren asked that the council not approve short-term rentals in rent-stabilized apartments and that it not allow short-term renters to obtain city street parking permits.

Justin Tindall said that he and his partner have a two-bedroom apartment and need to rent the second bedroom in order to afford their rent, which typically is high in West Hollywood. Tindall said using that bedroom for short-term stays would be easier than finding a compatible roommate. Joyce Heftel, who identified herself as a condo owner, argued for stricter controls on short-term rentals. Referring to residents who said they need to rent out an extra room to be able to pay their rent, Heftel said the people who can’t afford to live in West Hollywood shouldn’t live in West Hollywood.

Code Compliance will return to a future City Council meeting with a revised proposal that addresses the council’s concerns.

The Code Compliance proposal that was presented to the City Council recommended the following:

— Home sharing be allowed only for units that serve as the host’s primary residence. The host must live at the residence for at least 270 days per year.

— Hosts must occupy the residence during the guests’ stay and be able to respond in person within one hour of being contacted by city staffers or a law enforcement officer.

— Someone wanting to rent out a room in a condo or apartment must get permission from the property owner or the condo homeowners association. “Staff recommends allowing the applicants to self-certify that they have obtained the requisite permission. Requiring an applicant to submit a notarized document can be time-consuming and may deter participation.”

— Hosts be required to obtain a license or permit, renewable yearly, at a fee low enough to encourage participation in the program. The license could be revoked after two or more noise complaints.

— The host pay the same room tax as do hotels.

— Advertisements for rooms include a city license or permit number and the rooms must meet some minimum safety standards and include smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and a fire extinguisher.

— Hosts keep a log of all guests, dates of their stays and the rents paid by the guests for a period of three years. These logs should be made available to the city for inspection upon request.

— Hosts be held accountable for the actions of their guests and liable for all costs associated with the enforcement of the code.

— The number of people allowed to occupy a hosted apartment or house be limited to two people per bedroom and an additional two people. Thus a studio apartment could have only two occupants and a one-bedroom could house no more than four.

  1. I could not agree more with “A responsible host” dated July 18, 2017. My spouse and I bought a 2 bedroom/ 2 bath condo in 2012 with hosting Airbnb guests in mind to give us some income after my retirement. With this in mind we paid for the two bedrooms being separated from each other by the living room and each having a full bathroom for optimal privacy. It cost us more than we can afford for this. I am 78 years old with a pension that is worth less and less as the years go by. When young I always hosted friends from other countries or States free of charge. I still enjoy the company of multi cultural persons and now I can earn a little money doing it. The guests we have hosted in the last 5 years have invariably been so polite, clean, considerate and well educated. and they make great conversationalists sharing travel and educational experiences. After hosting hundreds, we have yet to experience a single negative one. Most of our guests do not need parking. They use UBER of public transportation. They spend money at restaurants, night clubs, tourist venues etc. It is a Win-Win situations. Yest, out of the blue the city council decided to ban accommodation for people who cannot afford the high hotel rates in the area and possibly condemning me to be a drain on city taxes, like so many others of my age. Enabling me to rent the extra bedroom I have, allows me to pay for my medicines and health care. I am hopeful that property owners are not discriminated against for taking care of their own futures.l

  2. I am impressed and applaude weho council to address and continue to make a LEGAL way for renters to use and if necessary a means to pay the cose of living which is extremely high. This cannot just be using and throwing around the term, “it is illegal”. The truth be told it is absolutely illegal to make such a bain on short term rentals. The “Right to Privacy”. Is an iniate and a major amemdment to the the constitution that is constantly being a problem for people who want to control for whatever reason. You cannot do that and if I had the resources I would go as high as possible to resolve this. The cost of living is astronomical so renter do not want to but have to sometimes.So, really what the **** is the big deal. Get over all the claims that people make with the agruments for prohibiting this”short term” rental. and by the way does anyone know what this is. Legally a short term rental, I thought I everyone is month to month any way because most landlords do not isssue new leases every year any way. Please do your research and I will do mine until the ths issue is resolved. Thank you wehoville and the city of weho.

  3. Joyce Heftel, condo owner: “The people who can’t afford to live in West Hollywood shouldn’t live in West Hollywood.” — please raise your hands, those of you who can afford to live independent of any rental support, anywhere in L.A. (not just WEHO) seriously curious…

  4. I love how everything needs a “study”. Sounds like most aspects of our entire government.

    The solution is easy to this. No AirBNB rentals in any compact residential structures. Meaning no condos or apartments. This is for the safety and respect of neighbors and also keeps a better grasp on greedy landlords affecting our housing supply.

    AirBNB rentals should only be allowed in single family homes but are still subject to the hotel tax. How do you enforce this? Easy. One person could be hired to go through AirBNB each day and determine which units are apartments or condo’s. Listings other than homes will be taken down and blocked. If not, the city can impose a $1,000 a day fine for violating city laws. There…I solved this complex problem.

  5. JJ, using your logic, how do you think they enforce the ban now? This article says there are 1,012 active rentals, as of March, 2017, even though the ban has been around for over a year. They simply don’t have enough manpower, or haven’t devoted enough resources to deal with it. There are other things that make it complicated, such as catching violators in the act, people listing their space outside the city limits (when the listing really is in the city limits), not having a strong enough violation fee, etc.. This was all discussed in a Council Meeting a few months ago.

    As a homeowner, please don’t tell me how to pay my mortgage, or what to do with my property. That’s none of your business. I should be able to have who I want in my home, under what terms. I bought the place over 12 years ago, with the understanding that my life could change over time, and I could do what I want with my spare bedroom. Granted, AirBnB didn’t exist, but short-term rentals did, including Craiglist ads, networking through friends, etc..

    I might use my spare bedroom as an office, for a visiting family member, for someone staying with me for a few months, for someone who needs it only a week out of the month, or decide to get a permanent roommate, or simply leave it is an empty bedroom, for when I have guests over. It is my home, and the government shouldn’t tell me who I can have in it, under what terms, especially when I am here to host their experience, and I own my space. I should have more rights than that, and lifestyle flexibility. This doesn’t just boil down to my ability to pay my mortgage.

    Santa Monica, SF, NYC and Sacramento have all recognized this, and they allow for their “homeowner’s hosting exclusion.” How they enforce it, I’m not certain.

    I wish NIMBYs could come around to a new way of thinking about the shared economy. This is the new world we live in. No, I don’t advocate zero regulation, but this is a sensible compromise. I think most people that disagree are coming from a place of ignorance, thinking that most AirBnB guests are loud, obnoxious, disrespectful partiers, when nothing could be further from the truth (in my experience). I’ve had way more problems with some of my “permanent” neighbors than any of the 200+ guests I’ve hosted in my home.

    I also think a lot of people are opposed to short-term rentals simply out of spite. Disgruntled tenants who are jealous of homeowners, who don’t get this flexibility and opportunity in their lives. I worked long and hard to become a homeowner. I should be able to reap whatever benefits come with it. I also bear responsibility. Maintenance, insurance, possible deadbeat tenants, etc.. Things renters don’t have to worry about. When my tenants’ garbage disposal breaks, or there is a plumbing issue, etc., I have to deal with it.

    Lastly, why defend hotels? The average room rate in West Hollywood is $220-$240 a night. There is an entire demographic of people who won’t visit the city because it is cost-prohibitive, and these are people who actually add to the local economy. Do we really need to defend rich capitalists/corporations at getting richer and richer? I get that they provide jobs, the employees make a tiny percentage of what a room costs. Part of the reason this overly-restrictive ban even exists is because of the lobbying and campaign contributions to our City Councilors, from rich developers. Why defend that?

    Especially with hundreds of new hotel rooms coming on the market in West Hollywood in the next 2 or 3 years. It would be nice of developers would be building permanent housing, with our housing shortage, instead of more hotel rooms. But greed prevails.

  6. How in the world are they going to know if a host is home at the time? Good luck enforcing that (as if WeHo enforces anything). If people need help paying the rent, get a roommate. We already have hotels/motels.

  7. Good decision. Hosting is a nice, social and conscious was way to meet quality people who want a host/friend to help them feel more secure in a city. As mentioned in the other article, it self-regulates itself as both the host and guests review each other. It brings business to West Hollywood and opens up the market/area for people who otherwise couldn’t afford to visit here. People have guests all the time be it from someone they met in a bar, app, social club, etc. Those who never want someone in their building aren’t being practical as that’s a luxury for single family home owners. Wish I could be one of them but I know when I moved into a condo that it’s a share space with foot traffic. At least with airbnb there are established reviews and it attracts some of the best people you would want in your community. That has been my experience with it. Unhosted could cause some problems. Hosted rentals will have very little negative impact on the area and offer much more positive. The self-certify seems fine for condos but for apartments there may be some extra steps to certify as very few leases allow co-leasing, hosting, etc. But either way it would be fine as again the hosting community does a lot of self regulating to insure that responsible people are matched up. More so than hotels that don’t require that guest be reviewed.

  8. Everything hear sounds reasonable to me, except I don’t think apartment-dwellers should be able to host, even with the permission of their landlord. I think few landlords would grant this permission, but I’d be concerned that sketchier landlords are going to make “kickback deals” with tenants, where they get one or more tenants to start AirBnB hosting, giving a percentage to the landlord. This could have an impact on housing stock. Especially if a landlord were to make agreements with several tenants at once. It could essentially create a loophole to turn apartment units into hotel rooms, which is one of the things this ordinance is supposed to prevent.

  9. Using your apt/condo like a hotel – I can see where the tight quarters would make neighbors uncomfortable with the potentially heavy foot traffic. If you need money for rent I’m not sure why one simply doesn’t get a roommate??? West Hollywood apts are rent stabilized so there cannot be some sort of unexpected rent increase one can’t afford. iMO It’s clear most renters are using someone else’s property to make side money at the expense of their neighbor’s well being. Private owner/occupied homes or guest houses to me seem to be the only solution – as long as they are held responsible for noise compliants. Once you add on the TOT or hotel occupancy tax plus Airbnb’s fee most average/small/dumpy lilltle places will be priced out.

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