Renting an Airbnb in Los Angeles? Here’s what to know before booking.

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When Kerrie Brinckerhoff was invited to a wedding in Los Angeles, she found the perfect place to stay—an adorable house in Echo Park. But just as she was about to book it, the listing was suddenly marked unavailable.

Brinckerhoff, who lives in Connecticut, contacted the host, who explained he had just received a letter from the city of Los Angeles telling him the listing violated new regulations on home-sharing.

“I had never experienced anything like this before,” says Brickerhoff.

The city of Los Angeles is cracking down on short-term rentals, such as Airnb and VRBO, which makes booking them trickier. But many potential renters, who are finding themselves with more limited options, don’t know that.

“I did not feel like any of the home owners made the rules in LA for Airbnb or home rentals clear,” Brickerhoff says. “The only reason I knew they were highly regulated is because my friend lives in the city.”

The new rules, which were passed in December 2018 after three years of deliberation by the City Council, are the city’s first attempt to regulate LA’s short-term rentals, which some advocates claim are taking affordable units off the market and worsening the housing crisis.

The rules have been in effect since July 1. But the city held off on enforcing them until November 1.

A city contractor is now combing through platforms such as Airbnb to find hosts who are not in compliance. Violators will be notified by the city and will have 30 days to come into compliance, according to the city’s planning department. If they don’t—they’ll be fined .

Last month, the city planning department sent out 4,800 warning letters to hosts who were not in compliance. It also gave Airbnb a “takedown” list of 164,784 addresses that are rent-controlled—and thus ineligible for hosting.

In March, the city’s tourism and convention board announced the city had welcomed a record-breaking number of tourists last year, with 50 million people visiting Los Angeles in 2018.

What to know before booking
  • Options are going to be slim. There are about 16,800 short-term rental listings in the city of Los Angeles as of November 20—that’s about a 60 percent drop since November 1, when enforcement started. Before the rules went into effect, Host Compliance LLC, a company that monitors short-term rental platforms, estimated there were 23,000 housing units available for rent in the city of LA on short-term rental platforms.
  • Look for a registration number. The city now requires hosts to register and it requires them to include that registration number in the listing. If there’s a registration number, that means the host is in compliance—and you likely won’t run the risk of having them cancel.
What hosts need to know
  • Hosts must register with the city planning department and pay an $89 fee. According to the city planning department.
  • Only the host’s primary residence can be rented out, defined as the place where a host lives for at least six months per year.
  • Renters can’t home-share without prior written approval of their landlord.
  • Stabilized (aka “rent-controlled”) units are not eligible for home-sharing, even if you own your own RSO unit.
  • Hosts may not register for or operate more than one home-sharing rental unit at a time in the city.
  • Hosts cannot home-share for more than 120 days in a calendar year, unless they have registered with the city for “extended home-sharing.”
  • The “extended home-sharing” option allows hosts to rent out residences for an unlimited number of days. To get approval from the city, hosts have to pay an $850 fee. To qualify, they need to be registered with the city for at least six months or hosted for at least 60 days. Hosts who have received a citation in the past three years will be disqualified, unless they pay a $5,660 fee to have their case reviewed.
  • Non-residential buildings and temporary structures are not eligible for home-sharing; that includes vehicles parked on the property as well as storage sheds, trailers, yurts, and tents.
  • Hosts are responsible for providing a Code of Conduct to all guests with rules about amplified sound and “evening outdoor congregations.”
  • There’s an email to sign up for to receive more updates.

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