Airbnb, San Francisco to Face off in Court Over New Rental Law
Airbnb, San Francisco to Face off in Court Over New Rental Law

Airbnb, San Francisco to Face off in Court Over New Rental Law

Airbnb has filed a lawsuit as a counter to the new rental law introduced by San Francisco authorities

Airbnb is fighting a legal battle against the city of its foundation. The rental startup company has sued San Francisco in order to block the newly-introduced rental rules. The lawsuit looks to prevent the law passed earlier this month by legislators to fight the home crises situation in the city, scheduled to come in effect from August 1.

The new ordinance issued by the San Francisco authorities blames house rental companies specifically Airbnb for apartments not listed with them. The company on the other hand is fighting the case in order to save itself from the fine that will be imposed by the authorities for unregistered listings and argue that the new ordinance violates the Communication Decency Act.

The company in its blog post wrote about the lawsuit: “This legislation ignores the reality that the system is not working and this new approach will harm thousands of everyday San Francisco residents who depend on Airbnb. It also violates federal law. This is an unprecedented step for Airbnb, and one we do not take lightly, but we believe it’s the best way to protect our community of hosts and guests.”

San Francisco authorities aim to hamper the growth of the rental startup as they believe that it has been responsible for the gap between supply and demand of rental housing. This is the first time that Airbnb has filed a lawsuit against any of the 34,000 cities it has operated in. This shows the tension between the startup company and the city authorities.

Earlier, the Board of Supervisors had asked the home rental companies including Airbnb to take down all the listings from their websites, which are not registered or else they will be fined. The company said that it is not liable for the content that was created by its users, claiming the authorities have violated the Communications Decency Act.

Rental companies, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO, will have to pay $1,000 penalty for every unregistered listing on their platform daily. Residents of San Francisco have to register with the city authorities before they start to rent out their houses on any of the rental platform, which is too complicated according to Airbnb.

The registration process has been described as very confusing; it has been changed every time according to Airbnb. Due to the changes, it gets difficult for people to register their listings again and again. The startup company has even proposed changes to the authorities including setting up a single-point online application process.

The company believes that there are other ways, through which these platforms can be regulated. Airbnb has over the time helped the officials in cracking down rental housing that are converted into illegal hotels. In 2015 only, the company removed more than 200 listings from its platform that were operating as hotel, which is illegal.

Last year, Airbnb also secured an achievement, when it won the ballot which would have cut down the short-term housing rentals to 75 nights per year only. The company was accused that it has increased the housing cost in San Francisco. At present, the city has 9,448 active houses listed, of which 5,636 are rented out as entire homes.

Editing by Aiman Haroon; Graphics by Rashid Rehman

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