San Francisco, California
When deciding whether to become an Airbnb host, it's important for you to understand the laws in your city. As a platform and marketplace we do not provide legal advice, but we want to provide some useful links that may help you better understand laws and regulations in San Francisco. This list is not exhaustive and there may be additional requirements or considerations based on your individual circumstances. If you have questions, please refer to the City’s Short-Term Residential Rental Starter Kit, contact the Planning Department or other city agencies directly, or consult a local lawyer or tax professional.
Under existing law, anyone in the City of San Francisco listing a residential property for short-term rent (less than 30 days at a time) on a hosting platform like Airbnb must register for both a Business Registration Certificate and Short-Term Rental Registration Certificate. Registration is a two-step process. From March 2022, hosts should register their short-term rentals and renew directly with the City of San Francisco, instead of on platforms like Airbnb as previously allowed.
- Primary Residency Requirement. To register your listing, you must live there for at least 275 days per year (or, if you haven’t lived there for a full year, 75% of the days you have occupied the unit). You can only have one primary residence.
- Hosting Activity. Your ability to share your space while you are present is unlimited. You may rent out your entire space while you are absent for up to 90 days per year.
- Liability Insurance. The law requires hosts to maintain at least $500,000 of liability insurance. If you host exclusively through Airbnb, our Host liability insurance satisfies this requirement.
- Eligible Properties and Violations. Properties in certain zones or buildings are not eligible for short-term rentals; review the list. Also, your unit must also not have any unresolved building, housing, or planning code complaints.
- Other Rules. It's also important to understand and abide by other contracts or rules that bind you, such as leases, condo board or co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable.
Business registration and taxes
Short-term rental operators in San Francisco must first obtain a valid Business Registration Certificate. You can apply through the San Francisco Treasurer & Tax Collector's Portal. The fee for registration is variable based on San Francisco gross receipts or payroll expense for the current calendar year.
Airbnb is currently the only Qualified Website Company in San Francisco. This means that if you host exclusively through Airbnb, you are not required to submit TOT filings or obtain a separate Certificate of Authority. Visit the City’s TOT FAQ for more information. Here is a copy of our Certificate of Authority to collect TOT.
Short-term rental registration
Short-term rental operators in San Francisco must also obtain a valid Short-Term Residential Rental Certificate from the Office of Short-Term Rentals in order to keep hosting on websites like Airbnb (this is separate and different from the Business Registration Certificate mentioned above).
To apply for a Short-Term Residential Rental Certificate, follow these steps:
- Visit SF Public Planning Portal
- Create an account in the portal and follow the City’s instructions in filling out your information. You’ll need to provide:
- Basic personal information: full name, email address, phone number, length of stay at listing address
- Basic listing information: the address, number of bedrooms, whether you rent or own, monthly rent (if applicable) and intended use (entire space, private room or shared space).
- Documentation: business account number from your Business Registration Certificate, current Driver’s License, proof of liability insurance, and proof of residency (see valid forms of documents here).
- Pay the $450 non-refundable application fee, which is good for two years.
- Submit your application and wait for the City to approve your application.
- While you are waiting from the City to approve your application, you can begin hosting by going to your Airbnb host account page and click on your listing’s Policies and rules > Laws and Regulations > Regulations.
- Add and submit the temporary record number you received from the City in the registration number field. You can find this number in the email confirmation from the city or the dashboard in the SF Planning Public Portal.
- Once you receive your registration approval, you are required to return to your listing’s Regulations page to update your registration details.
Renewals and appeals
Hosts must renew their registration every two years (provided the registered unit remains in good standing). If your registration application was denied, or you do not renew after your registration has lapsed, you may be subject to fines, penalties, and/or removals. According to the Office of Short-Term Rentals (OSTR) website, if your application for a certificate is rejected, or if a previously-issued certificate has been revoked by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, you may file a written appeal within thirty calendar days from the date of the notice of rejection or revocation. For further information, please review these procedures.
Airbnb will be remitting the registration number you entered on your listing, as well as the expiration date and zip-code for this number. If you do not wish to share any of this data with the City, you will need to deactivate/remove your listing from Airbnb.
The city has created a similar FAQ on their website that answers additional questions related to registering as a short-term rental host. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Reporting. Administrative Code, Chapter 41A.5(g) requires you to file quarterly reports in January, April, July and October disclosing the number and dates of short-term rentals of your unit. Reports may be submitted via the Quarterly Rental Reporting Portal maintained by the City’s Office of Short Term Rentals.
- Recordkeeping. Administrative Code, Chapter 41A.5(g) requires you to keep records demonstrating compliance with the law, including records that: prove primary residence, show how many days per year you occupy the unit, and show the number and dates of short-term rentals of your unit (your Airbnb dashboard will be helpful to this last requirement).
- Safety Issues. Administrative Code, Chapter 41A.5(g) requires that when hosting, you must post a clearly printed sign inside your unit on the inside of the front door that provides information about the location of all fire extinguishers in the unit and building, gas shut off valves, fire exits, and pull fire alarms.
Licensed hotel, B&B, or timeshare
If you are listing a licensed hotel, bed & breakfast, or timeshare, you can claim an exemption instead. Your entry, along with your listing ID and zip code will be remitted to the City for verification.
It's also important to understand and abide by other contracts or rules that bind you, such as leases, condo board or co-op rules, HOA rules, or rules established by tenant organizations. Please read your lease agreement and check with your landlord if applicable.
Our commitment to your community
We’re committed to working with local officials to clarify how local rules impact the short-term rental community. We will continue to advocate for changes that will enable people to share their homes.