San Francisco, CA

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City Ordinance for Short Term Rentals in San Francisco, CA

Navigating the rules around short term and vacation rentals the City of San Francisco

Summary of the City:

San Francisco is a city dedicated to preserving the affordable housing stock of its city.  The city has strict laws that only allow the that primary residences be used as short-term rentals and that limit the number of days that a residence can be rented without its host present. In addition, a recent legal settlement with Airbnb and the city will allow San Francisco to receive a monthly list of hosts in the city, allowing them to monitor and investigate them for compliance.

Main Takeaways:

    • Only owner-occupied short-term rental units are legal.
    • Short-term rental residences can only be rented 90 days a year when the host is not present.
    • As the result of a 2017 settlement between Airbnb and the city, Airbnb and other home sharing sites will automatically provide a monthly list of all hosts to the city and will cancel reservations and deactivate accounts of those not in compliance with the law (at the city's request).


San Francisco legalized short-term rentals in 2015. Before this, San Francisco banned residential rentals of less than 30 days in multi-unit buildings—which made most Airbnb-type rentals illegal (although the law was rarely enforced).

The ordinance requires that short-term rentals be owner-occupied. All hosts must reside in their units for at least 275 days per year. An owner of a multi-unit building may only register and rent the specific residential units in which he or she resides. In addition, the host may only rent the unit out for a maximum of 90 days per year when they are not present. Violators who continue to rent out their apartments beyond the 90 days are subject to a daily fine of $484 for first offenders up to $968 for repeat offenders.

Towards the end of 2015, the organization San Francisco Share Better, the San Francisco Tenant’s Council, various hotel workers’ unions, and neighborhood groups proposed Proposition F, which sought to limit vacation rentals to 75 days a year; increase enforcement and penalties; and establish big payoffs for neighbors and others who successfully reported or sued violators.

The supporters said the city’s existing regulations for short-term rentals, enacted in February, were toothless and reported that only about 700 of Airbnb’s thousands of hosts complied with a requirement to register their homes as temporary rentals. Proposition F failed at the polls.

However, in June 2016, the city passed more legislation over a new law that required Airbnb and other hosting companies to verify that its hosts have registered with the city before showing ads for their homes online. The law requires Airbnb to make sure hosts register, and the company faces $1,000 per day fines if it does not. Airbnb promptly sued, arguing that the city should hold hosts accountable instead.

In April of 2017, the city and Airbnb reached a settlement over these issues.  In return for dropping the lawsuit, hosting companies agreed to turn over a monthly list of all San Francisco hosts and to deactivate those hosts who the city reports don’t have a valid registration.         

Is my STR legal?

    • You must live in your rental at least 275 days a year for it to be considered your principal residence.
    • You must have liability insurance of $500,000.
    • You must obtain a valid business registration certificate, which can be applied for on San Francisco's Treasurer and Tax Collector's web portal.
    • You must become a certified host.
    • You must turn in quarterly reports on the number of and dates for your rental activities to the city.
    • You must post fire safety information on the premises.
    • If you are a tenant (renter) in a rent-controlled unit, you may never make more than your monthly rent from your short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.


San Francisco Board of Supervisors

The Office of Short Term Rentals for the City and County of San Francisco

Share Better San Francisco