Forwarded from Omar Masry
Office of Short Term Rentals, City & County of San Francisco
P. 415.575.9116 l F. 415.558.6409
1650 Mission Street | 4th Floor | San Francisco | CA 94103
A Basic Introduction to Short-Term Rental Rules in San Francisco
San Francisco residents are allowed to rent their homes for periods of less than 30 nights (known as “short-term rentals”), subject to certain registration requirements. Short-term rental includes renting out a portion, or your entire home, to guests for stays of 30 days of less. Short-term rentals are typically listed through on-line platforms such as VRBO, Flipkey, Craigslist, and Airbnb. Here is a quick overview of what you need to know:
- Hosts Need to Live in San Francisco. You must be the permanent resident (owner or tenant) of the actual residential unit that you wish to rent on a short-term basis. This means you must live in that specific residential unit for at least 275 nights of any given calendar year.
- Certain limits apply. Residents can rent out their home for up to 90 days per year when they are not present, and for an unlimited number of days while they are present at the home. Hosts may only offer short-term rentals at only one dwelling in the City.
- Business Registration:You first must obtain a San Francisco Business Registration from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. To apply, visit the SF Business Portal at businessportal.sfgov.org/home-rentals. Note that renewals with the Tax Collector are required yearly.
- Certificate Required. After obtaining your Business Registration, you are also required to obtain a valid registration certificate from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. To obtain the application and learn more about eligibility requirements and required documentation, visit sfgov.org/OSTR. The application fee is $250,* and once issued, certificates are valid for two (2) years. Operating a short-term rental (whether using websites or offline tools) without a registration certificate may result in administrative penalties starting at $484 per day.
- Short Appointment Times. To apply for a certificate with the Office of Short-Term Rentals, an in-person appointment is required. You can schedule an appointment online. Most appointments take an average of 15 minutes. Scheduled appointments are available throughout the week. In addition, the Office of Short-Term Rentals offers walk-in hours each Wednesday afternoon, and on the first Monday evening of every month. The Office of Short-Term Rentals will also be holding a series of evening registration events throughout San Francisco, beginning in May. For further details and to schedule an appointment, visit: sfgov.org/OSTR.
- Not all Homes are Eligible. Homes that are noteligible for short-term rental include certain income-restricted affordable housing, below-market-rate (“BMR”) units, many single-room-occupancy units (“SROs”), and units that were the subject of a recent Ellis Act eviction. Only areas that were legally built, per permits issued by the Department of Building Inspection, may be rented. If the property features an accessory dwelling unit (“granny flat”) only the permanent resident of the accessory dwelling (not the resident of the primary dwelling [main home]) may host short-term rentals. If you live in a multi-unit building you may only host short-term rentals in the specific unit you live in.
- Rules for Property Owners in Homeowners Associations and Condominiums. The City’s rules do not supersede any private agreements (sometimes referred to as codes, covenants and restrictions, or “CC&Rs”) that may prohibit subletting (which include short-term rentals). Owners should review applicable documents to ensure their hosting activity will not violate any private agreements.
- Rules for Renters in Any Type of Dwelling. The City’s rules do not supersede any private agreements, such as leases, rental agreements, or CC&Rs that may restrict subletting (which include short-term rentals). Renters should review applicable documents to ensure their hosting activity will not violate any private agreements. Renters must provide a copy of their lease with their registration application, and renters in rent-controlled units may not collect more rent from short-term rental activity in a given month than they pay in rent to their landlord. If a registration certificate is issued to an eligible applicant, a courtesy notice is also mailed to the property owner to inform them of the registration.
- Taxes & Insurance. Transient Occupancy Taxes (“hotel taxes”) are required for all stays of less than 30 days. While the hosting platform Airbnb does collect the Transient Occupancy Tax (and remits the tax to the Tax Collector), other hosting platforms currently do not. It is the host’s responsibility to ensure all appropriate taxes are remitted. In addition, you may be subject to Business Personal Property taxes for furniture, appliances, and supplies associated with the short-term rental. Hosts are also required to maintain $500,000 of liability insurance, unless all the hosting platforms being utilized provide equivalent coverage.
- Specific Notification Requirements in Certain Single-Family Neighborhoods. For homes located in the various “RH-1(D)” zoning districts in the City, there is a specific neighborhood notification requirement. Before a registration certificate can be issued, a notice would be sent to property owners, residents, and homeowner’s associations within 300 feet of the residence. Once the notice is sent out, community members have 45 days to let the Office know if there is information showing that the host, or property, does not meet the eligibility requirements in the City’s Administrative Code (Section 41A). This notification is not required in other zoning districts in the City. To look up your zoning district, visit sfplanning.org, search for your address, then click on the “Zoning” tab.
- Questions, Suggestions, or Complaints.For more information please visit sfgov.org/OSTR.If residents have questions or suggestions about the registration process, or wish to file a complaint with the Office of Short-Term Rentals regarding a suspected illegal short-term rental, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (415) 575-9179.
*The figure was previously $50. On Dec. 6, Mr. Masry sent us an updated figure of $250. HW