Los Angeles

After Three Years of Debate, LA Approves Airbnb Rules

The ordinance that was approved by the council allows qualified hosts to rent year-round

What to Know

  • A draft ordinance would allow qualified hosts to rent year-round.
  • Units that fall under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance would not be allowed to be rented under the proposed ordinance
  • There were about 456,000 nights booked on Airbnb alone in 2016

An ordinance regulating Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms in Los Angeles was unanimously approved today by the City Council, capping more than three years of debate.

The city has not had an ordinance regulating Airbnb, which connects travelers with hosts looking to rent out their home or a bedroom, but struck a deal with the company in 2016 for it to pay hotel taxes on behalf of its hosts under a three-year agreement.

The ordinance that was approved by the council allows qualified hosts to rent year-round, for which industry advocates had been lobbying. Hosts could petition for more than 120 days by meeting certain criteria, including that the property has not been the subject of too many nuisance violations.

Councilman Mike Bonin said the measure was the result of a lot of compromises and is "far from perfect," but is "as close as we can get" to striking the proper balance between all the competing interests. He also said the ordinance would likely be reevaluated six months to a year after being implemented.

Units that fall under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance will not be allowed to be rented under the ordinance, although the council may come back and address that in the future. The Housing Committee recently asked for a report exploring the feasibility of allowing some low-income residents who live in rent-stabilized units to be home-sharing hosts, although the details about who would qualify and under what conditions were not clear.

The ordinance, which needs to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to become official, would take effect on July 1.

The council voted to remove language that would have made the date July 1 or when a separate ordinance regulating non-primary residences is passed.

Under the just-approved ordinance, only primary residences can be rented, which is defined as a home where the host lives at least six months out of the year. The council created the limitation in an effort to protect the city's available housing stock and prevent landlords from buying buildings just to rent out on Airbnb or other platforms, or evicting residents so their unit could be rented short-term.

A Department of City Planning report says about 456,000 nights wre booked on Airbnb alone in 2016, and an estimated 550,000 nights booked by all home-sharing companies in 2017.

The final ordinance is an effort to craft a policy that pleases both short-term rental hosts, who say their livelihood depends on the practice, and critics who say it is contributing to the city's housing shortage and affecting quality-of-life issues in some neighborhoods by allowing for rental "party houses" to overtake otherwise quiet neighborhoods.

Councilman David Ryu said the ordinance is "not a perfect solution, but is the right step to make."

Among the new rules:

  • Hosts can only offer their primary residences for short term rentals;
  • The number of days for short-term rentals per home is capped at 120 days and a host must apply for a home sharing permit;
  • The application and any renewal cost $89;
  • If a hosts wants to extend the number of days, they can apply for more days for a fee of $850;
  • They must also pay a per night surcharge to help offset the cost of enforcement and compliance;
  • Among those enforcement enhancements will be a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week staffed hotline to receive complaints;
  • Home sharing companies can only offer listings of home owners that have registered with the city;
  • They must also send user information to the city to conduct enforcement.

Read the ordinance here for more information.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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