US: Los Angeles City Council has approved rules to regulate short-term rentals in the city, which will include restricting hosts to offering no more than 120 nights per year in their primary residence.
The regulations also mean short-term rentals will not be allowed in the city’s rent-stabilised units, so much of the affordable housing will not be taken off the market and converted into higher-profit rooms for tourists.
The regulations, which were approved after three years of deliberation by the City Council, are now set to come into effect on 1 July 2019, pending mayor Eric Garcetti’s approval.
Venice neighbourhood councilman Mike Bonin said efforts to rein in the “emerging- and fast-moving industry” over that time had centred around the question of “affordable housing and housing instability, which really is an issue on both sides of the debate.”
As a result, the regulations will limit hosts to renting out only their primary residences, or places where a person has lived for at least six months of the year.
Bonin said it would “allow genuine home-sharing but prohibit rogue hotels from taking place”.
Proponents of the regulations have long argued that the emergence of websites like Airbnb has persuaded property owners to convert longer term, affordable rentals into more profitable accommodation for tourists and other guests.
Bonin said the drive to put regulations in place was triggered by the phenomenon of apartments getting converted into unregulated hotels, which sometimes left the former tenants homeless.
Although the regulations restrict hosts to offering no more than 120 nights per year, they can still extend the cap to more nights out of the year if they pay extra fees on top.
The new rules will also give the city the ability to enforce short-term rental activity, such as requiring hosts to obtain a valid city registration number and include it in any listings and advertisements of the rooms. Any host without a registration number will be considered to be violating the rules set out by the council.
Director of tenant rights group Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) Cynthia Strathmann said the regulations would be beneficial for Los Angeles renters.
Strathmann said: “Really this is a debate between people who live in Los Angeles and a few people who make money off of Airbnb, especially speaking from the tenant rights community.”
She also labelled the regulations a compromise, as a coalition of similar groups had been calling for a yearly rental cap of 87 nights.
In a statement, Airbnb said: “The council vote to legalise home-sharing in L.A., providing thousands of Angelenos a way to earn critical income to make ends meet, launched a pathway to regulate the city’s longstanding vacation rental market with sensible guardrails to protect housing.
“This is a big step in the right direction and we remain committed to working with the city to develop comprehensive, enforceable rules that are a model for cities around the world,” it added.