“Let’s rent a house,” our friends suggested when we decided to meet up in Santa Monica, Calif. We liked the idea of lounging together in a living room and making our own breakfasts. But it took only a few minutes of hunting online with Airbnb and VRBO to kill the dream. Santa Monica — the new Beverly Hills, where million-dollar cottages catch ocean breezes — has passed an ordinance against short-term house and apartment rentals, unless the owner is on the premises. The places we wanted to stay required 31-day minimum stays.
Across the country, other municipalities are waging battles against home sharing sites.
In New York City, home and apartment owners can rent out their places only for stays 30 days or longer, according to state law. (As is true in Santa Monica, it is OK to rent out part of a property provided the owner is also staying there.) But in the city with some of the highest hotel rates — and rents — in the country, New Yorkers have been enticed to offer vacation rentals, and visitors have been happy to pay them. Now New York City Council members have proposed raising the penalty from $1,000 for a first-time offense to $10,000, and up to a maximum of $50,000.
The city council in Santa Barbara, Calif., recently voted to ban short-term rentals. The same is true in the spa town of Ojai, Calif. Meanwhile, St. Paul is considering adding restrictions.
Meanwhile, there is one place where home sharing enthusiasts can continue to rent from individual homeowners: San Francisco, where Airbnb is headquartered. The company spent $8 million fighting a proposition that would have imposed strict limits on short-term rentals; the ballot measure failed in November.
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