SANTA MONICA—The city of Santa Monica and Airbnb, Inc. signed a settlement agreement on Tuesday, December 10 that requires all Airbnb listings in Santa Monica to be compliant with the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance to prevent illegal listings from being rented out. The agreed upon terms seek to facilitate registered home shares to use the platform, prevent hosts from listing multiple properties, and includes a per booked night fee to be collected and paid by Airbnb.
The settlement comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance, agreeing with the City Attorney’s Office in rejecting claims by Airbnb and Homeaway.com that the ordinance ran afoul of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 and the First Amendment.
Home Sharing Ordinance 2484 was enacted in 2015 when city council agreed that “vacation rentals are detrimental to the community’s welfare and are prohibited by local law because occupants of such vacation rentals, when not hosted, do not have any connections to the Santa Monica community and to the residential neighborhoods in which they are visiting.” The Santa Monica City council indicated in the ordinance that the presence of such visitors within the city’s residential neighborhoods have the ability to disrupt the quietude and residential character of the neighborhoods.
Details of the new agreement, include:
- Airbnb will require all listings to have a city license number. License numbers are provided to hosts who register to home share and acquire a business permit and license.
- Airbnb will only allow each host to list one home or dwelling with no more than two listings per residence (one home may have two rooms available, for example). Airbnb will remove listings that are in violation of this requirement after January 20, 2020.
- Airbnb will collect and pay the city $2 for each night booked at any listing in Santa Monica.
- Airbnb will provide regular reports to the city to ensure compliance and to support city enforcement efforts.
“We have fervently defended our ordinance and are pleased to reach a settlement with Airbnb that creates a workable system that aligns with our goal of protecting the City’s housing supply,” said City Attorney Lane Dilg. “This agreement with Airbnb will make the City’s enforcement efforts less costly and more effective; most importantly, it will preserve housing for our residents. This is a positive outcome for Santa Monica.”
Legal home sharing in Santa Monica is defined as stays of less than 31 days where the host remains on site. There are currently 351 registered home-shares in the city with Airbnb accounting for a large majority of home share listings.
“We now can better protect real permanent homes, especially our affordable rent-controlled apartments, from being used as de facto hotel rooms, displacing our neighbors,” said Councilmember Kevin McKeown.
The city of Santa Monica permits residents who obtain a city license to host visitors for compensation for a period of less than 31 days, as long as the resident and visitor are both present in the home. Un-hosted short-term rentals of residential housing, known as vacation rentals, remain unlawful in Santa Monica.
This legislation as amended in 2017 and 2019 provide current and prospective residents the opportunity to achieve supplemental income through home-sharing to meet increased rents and housing prices while ensuring that Santa Monica’s housing units, particularly affordable units, will not be converted into de facto hotels.
As amended in 2017, this legislation also imposes regulations on businesses, such as Airbnb, Inc. and HomeAway.com, that engage in booking transactions for short-term rentals of housing units for profit. The city’s ordinance prohibits such businesses from providing and collecting a fee for booking services for unlicensed short-term rentals.
For more information on the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance or to apply for a Home-Sharing License, visit www.smgov.net/homeshare.