But in touristy cities with housing shortages and hot real-estate markets—New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and many more—Airbnb plays a less savory role. Not only does Airbnb facilitate illegal conversions of entire buildings from tenant apartments to de facto hotels, it has also become part of the landlord lobby that resists enforcement of local laws prohibiting such abuses. To be sure, places like San Francisco would suffer the effects of conversions even without Airbnb, but the evidence shows that Airbnb supercharges the process.
Take the case of Chris Butler, who was evicted from his rent-controlled apartment on the grounds that the owner’s husband needed to move in (a legally acceptable reason for evicting a tenant, called “owner-occupied move-in”). Yet the husband never moved in, and instead the owner listed that unit as well as another on Airbnb for $145 a night, considerably more than the $60 a night the tenant paid. So the tenant sued the landlord for unjust eviction. “They forced me out of a home I loved,” says Butler. “It was incredibly difficult to find a place, especially because I have a really old dog. I ended up paying over double what I was paying there.”
In another lawsuit, tenant Susan Whetzel claims that she was illegally evicted from her rent-controlled apartment, which was then rented out via Airbnb. The owner claimed that he was converting his three-unit building into condominiums, but the building was never converted. Whetzel claims she was harassed by the owners until she finally moved out, and then discovered her apartment listed on the Airbnb website for $250 a night, more than four times her rent. With an attorney’s help, she filed suit, asking for her apartment back, plus damages. Her lawsuit is still pending.
GOV TECK _ LA SEEKS USER DATA TO ENFORCE CITY REGULATIONS full article by Emily Alpert Reyes, of the LA TIMES
The law would allow short-term rentals in Los Angeles but impose several restrictions:
People would be able to rent out only their primary residence, defined as the place they live at least six months out of the year. Hosts could rent out only that home, or a room within it, for up to 90 days annually.
They would be barred from offering apartments that fall under rent stabilization or affordable-housing covenants, and would have to pay the same kind of lodging taxes as hotels, which would go into a city fund for affordable housing.