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San Francisco wants to end Airbnb abuses with proposed rules

Airbnb hosts in San Francisco are facing new restrictions on when and how they rent out their homes, but at least the city’s proposed rules will make the practice legal.

Airbnb was born in San Francisco almost six years ago, but the city waited until Tuesday to propose regulations on the home-sharing company. People who use the site to make a little extra money will have to be more mindful of how often they rent out their space. The city’s Board of Supervisors President David Chiu’s proposal requires hosts to physically occupy their homes 275 days of the year, limiting Airbnb rentals to 90 days a year. The proposal is designed to "address this new kind of housing arrangement, not to shut down all activities, but to end abuses that come from it," Chiu told Time.

Hosts also will be required to have liability insurance and register with the city. The registry will be public and searchable by address so landlords can find out if their tenants are subletting on Airbnb. Tenants in rent-controlled units are prohibited from charging Airbnb guests more than their rent.

The regulations are strict, but if your landlord finds out you’re violating your lease by subletting on Airbnb, you can’t be kicked out—at least not right away. A first offense will be documented, but if you stop renting out your place, you can’t be evicted. You won’t be able to get around registering with the city under the proposed law: Airbnb and other companies will be required to ban users who haven’t registered.

Airbnb in a Tuesday blog post seemed mostly pleased with the proposed regulations, which haven’t yet passed the Board of Supervisors. Knowing San Francisco, it will likely take some time to become law.

“There are certainly provisions in this proposal that could be problematic to our hosting community, including a registration system that could make some of their personal information public, so there is much work to be done to ensure we pass legislation that is progressive, fair, and good for San Francisco and our hosting community,” wrote David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of global public policy.

“But this is an important first step, and it is just the beginning of what promises to be a very long process during which the entire Board of Supervisors will look at this proposal, hear from all sides—including our community—and make decisions about how to proceed.”

Airbnb has already volunteered to help hosts pay occupancy taxes, and those taxes would become law under Chiu’s plan.

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