By Julie Watts

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Is the City of San Francisco going after homeowners who are renting out their homes to vacationers? One San Francisco homeowner believes they are.

Nancy Eller who lives in San Francisco’s Glen Park District said she received a notice from the city’s Planning Department that she was in violation of the city law forbidding short-term rental of a residential property.

Eller and her husband have been renting out their home for years to vacationers. She’s been paying 14% sales tax and state and federal income tax on her rental income so the rentals are a win-win for her and the city she said.

Eller said she received a notice from the City that ordered her to immediately remove her listings from Airbnb and another vacation rental site. She was told that she was in violation of the Code section 209.2(d). If she did not remove the listings within 15 days, she could face fines of $250 a day.

Eller said she and her husband only rent out their property while they are away on vacation. Eller said, “I’m sure other Airbnb and Homeway homeowners have received this letter, We have been very successful in renting our home in San Francisco …. I have not taken our listing off … sites, nor do I intend to, at this stage in the process.”

The city’s Planning Dept. told KPIX 5 that it is not cracking down on these type of vacation rentals. And that while many landlords may be in violation of the short term rental law, a city official said that this was an isolated case due to a complaint. The city official said that about 200 such letters have gone out in the past couple of years.

In a separate case, the SF Examiner reports tenants rights groups have gone to the City Attorney in hopes that the city will take legal action against landlords who use Airbnb and other web-based services to illegally rent out units to tourists. The tenants groups are concerned about the loss of rental units from landlords hoping to make more money from vacation renters.

“We don’t generally comment on ongoing investigations, but we’re aware of several allegations related to housing and short-term rentals, including some that community leaders brought to our attention,” said City Attorney Press Secretary Matt Dorsey. “At this time, I can only confirm that we are reviewing a number of potential cases.”


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