Santa Monica gets tough with harsh anti-Airbnb law

Tough new laws enacted in the California beach town of Santa Monica cracking down on short-term vacation rental operators could wipe out about 80% of listings on home-sharing sites like Airbnb and HomeAway.

Due to come into effect today, Santa Monica’s new law says home owners can only rent out space in their homes if they themselves are staying there.

City Hall estimates that could affect as many as 1,400 of the 1,700 short-term rental listings.

The rules, some of the strictest in the country, have been passed to stop businesses from managing multiple homes purely for short-term rental income, decreasing the housing supply and sending real estate prices and rents even higher.

“Our city council thought that it was important to intervene and return rentals to the housing market,” said Salvador Valles, assistant director of planning and community development.

Any homeowner violating the rule will be hit by a $500 fine, Valdes said.

Hosts are required to apply for a business license at no cost and business tax would not be levied on rental income below $40,000 a year.

However hosts would still pay 14% occupancy tax.

Lawmakers have agreed to a ‘grace period’ and will not enforce the rule immediately as many bookings have already been taken for the summer at homes that would likely fall foul of the new law.

The law has been described as “a tragic mistake and a missed opportunity” by Robert St. Genis of the Los Angeles Short Term Rental Alliance.

“The law hurts a lot of people that it’s not intended to hurt. It hurts the family that’s used to being able to take a vacation using the money from renting out their home for the summer.”

“There have been vacation rentals by the beach as long as there have been houses by the beach.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

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