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New Airbnb Laws Are Off to Rocky Start

by Lark Turner

New Airbnb Laws Are Off to Rocky Start: Figure 1
An Airbnb rental in San Francisco

An attempt to better regulate Airbnb rentals is getting off to a rocky start in San Francisco, where only a handful of the city’s thousands of hosts have registered under a new law.

Just 159 hosts have registered since the law went into effect on February 1, SF Gate reports. Hosts say following the regulations, which require lots of paperwork and multiple trips to city offices to file it, is too onerous. A similar law passed in Portland has spurred similarly lackluster participation from hosts on the short-term rental site, the paper says.

The regulations were cheered when they passed because they represented the legalization of a service long confined to a legal gray area. But now the company is suggesting that the laws involve too many hoops to jump through and not enough incentive for hosts on the service to register.

“Hundreds of hosts are working to follow the rules, but we have heard from countless people in Portland and San Francisco who are concerned about the needless red tape involved in the process,” Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas told SF Gate. “We need to give the law a chance to work and make it easier for people to follow the rules, not harder. We’ve communicated with our hosts about the new rules, and now we need to keep working together on some sensible changes to the process.”

Services like Airbnb, including ride-hailing app Uber, have faced similar growing pains as they gain popularity fast, before regulations have time to catch up. San Francisco has long since come around to accepting the service generally — a multimillion dollar payment of back taxes from the company may have helped — but smaller cities are still grappling with how to regulate the services.

Louisville, for example, recently told Airbnb hosts to shutter their listings on the site entirely. Airbnb very recently agreed to start charging a hotel tax in DC. And Uber only just reached an agreement with Virginia to operate the service legally after being instructed by the government to stop giving rides entirely in mid-2014.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/new_airbnb_laws_off_to_rocky_start_in_portland_and_san_francisco/9592

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