Lawsuits target Airbnb rentals

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LAWSUITS TARGET AIRBNB RENTALS

The San Francisco City Attorney's Office last week filed a pair of lawsuits against local landlords who illegally rent out apartments on a short-term basis, units that had been cleared of tenants using the Ellis Act. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Tenants Unions has hired attorney Joseph Tobener to file more such lawsuits, and he is preparing to file at least seven lawsuits involving 20 units.

The lawsuits are the latest actions in a fast-moving crackdown on Airbnb and other online companies that facilitate short-term apartment rentals that violate city laws against converting apartments into de facto hotel rooms, including VRBO.com and Homeaway.com.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu recently introduced legalization that would legalize, limit, and regulate such rentals, a measure that will be considered this summer. That legislation comes on the heels of Airbnb's decision to stop stonewalling the city (and us at the Guardian, which has been raising these issues for the last two years) by agreeing to start paying the transient occupancy taxes it owes to the city for its transactions and creating new terms of service that acknowledge its business model may violate local laws in San Francisco and elsewhere (see "Into thin air," 6/6/13).

As we've reported, City Attorney Dennis Herrera has been working with tenant groups and others on a legal action aimed at curtailing the growing practice of landlords using online rental services to skirt rent control laws and other tenant protection, removing units from the permanent housing market while still renting them out at a profit.

"In the midst of a housing crisis of historic proportions, illegal short-term rental conversions of our scarce residential housing stock risks becoming a major contributing factor," Herrera said in a public statement. "The cases I've filed today target two egregious offenders. These defendants didn't just flout state and local law to conduct their illegal businesses, they evicted disabled tenants in order to do so. Today's cases are the first among several housing-related matters under investigation by my office, and we intend to crack down hard on unlawful conduct that's exacerbating—and in many cases profiting from—San Francisco's alarming lack of affordable housing."

Tobener tells the Guardian that the San Francisco Tenants Union hired him to discourage local landlords from removing units from the market. "The San Francisco Tenants Union is just fed up with the loss of affordable housing," Tobener told us. "It's not about the money, it's about getting these units back on the market." (Steven T. Jones)

 

SF LOOKS TO MARIN FOR RENEWABLES

Just in time for Earth Day, a renewed effort to reduce the city's carbon emissions was introduced at the April 22 Board of Supervisors yesterday. Sup. John Avalos introduced a resolution calling for a study of San Francisco joining Marin Clean Energy, which provides renewable energy to that county's residents.

The move is seen largely as an effort to circumvent Mayor Ed Lee's opposition to implementing a controversial renewable energy plan called CleanPowerSF (see "Revisionist future," April 15).

"Mayor Lee and the Public Utilities Commission objected to CleanPowerSF, but they have offered no other solution to provide San Franciscans with 100 percent renewable electricity," Avalos said in a public statement. "With this ordinance, we can either join Marin or we can implement our own program, but we can no longer afford to do nothing."

Comments

short-term lets. Otherwise there would be thousands of defendants and not just these two,

Posted by Guest on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

Let's bring some perspective to this. In most of the nation, one does not need any "Ellis Act" to evict tenants. In most of the nation, one can evict tenants without cause, upon the expiration of their lease, meaning, at the end of a month, in a month to month rental, or at the end of the year in the case of a year lease. It is only in a few cities in the nation where property owners are essentially forced into providing charity for people they happen to have rented to, by being forced to provide housing for them permanently, unless the tenant leaves, or dies, or the owner sells the building. THis is wrong. Rent control is wrong, and it is wrong that property owners in many cases have no way to get tenants out of their building except by using Ellis Act evictions.
There is a housing shortage in San Francisco, but this will not be solved by imprisoning landlords into permanent relationships with tenants they no longer wish to do business with. It is difficult when a disabled person is asked to find another place to live, but private property owners should not be forced into providing charity to disabled, elderly or low-income persons. If these people need help with housing, it is the government who should help them finance their housing. No private property owner should be forced to provide lifelong charity.

People should be able to do what they want with their own private property. It is immoral for government to be suing people for choosing with whom they would like to do business.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

Selling a building does not mean the tenants have to leave. The new buyer is stuck with them. Insane but true.

That is why many buildings get Ellised immediately after being sold. Because who on earth would want to subsidize an enforced charity?

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2014 @ 8:16 am

Jason Grant Garza here ... great is Herrera running for future office?

From the article above ....
"The lawsuits are the latest actions in a fast-moving crackdown on Airbnb and other online companies that facilitate short-term apartment rentals that violate city laws against converting apartments into de facto hotel rooms, including VRBO.com and Homeaway.com." Violations of the laws for LONG NOW?
"Board of Supervisors President David Chiu recently introduced legalization that would legalize, limit, and regulate such rentals, a measure that will be considered this summer." Board supervisor ... why NOT the push for ENFORCEMENT ... apparently the LAWS mean NOTHING.
"As we've reported, City Attorney Dennis Herrera has been working with tenant groups and others on a legal action aimed at curtailing the growing practice of landlords using online rental services to skirt rent control laws and other tenant protection, removing units from the permanent housing market while still renting them out at a profit." Wow what a GREAT guy ...

Then why did he NOT act against DPH when it broke the law .... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cP3jCmJFRo&list=TL94POgJi8cQ1nNy0J0ia73...

As a matter of fact if the concern is for ENFORCEMENT then why when I was denied in 2001 by SF General for emergency care and took them to court (C02-3485PJH in 2003 where the city testilied to have my case dismissed) and then in 2007 signed a settlement/confession with the Office of Inspector General admitting fault and guilt http://myownprivateguantanamo.com/settle1.html YET leaving their innocent vindicated victim for DEAD. It is 2014 and NO ONE from the courts, DPH or Mr. Herrera's office has explained .... how I can have an arrest record (never having been arrested before) sitting next to a confession by the city for a CRIME they COMMITTED.

Oh and as far as it continuing .... I was again denied emergency care at SF General on 4/30/14 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzk7hn8tfm0

So type my name (Jason Garza) into youtube to see 400 videos to learn the GAMES, watch the INHUAMNITY and Keep DRINKING the KOOL-AID ....

Especially watch the City Attorney videos where I am questioning about the his "NEVADA Patient Dumping" lawsuit and seeking answers in regard to the signed confession I have for Patient Dumping.

Rigged is as RIGGED does.

Posted by Jason Grant Garza on May. 03, 2014 @ 7:00 am

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