Airbnb comes clean with San Francisco

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Airbnb came clean this evening, sending out new terms of service drafted April 7 that customers must agree to before conducting further business starting April 30. The new agreements seem intended to address longstanding issues in San Francisco that the Guardian first raised in May 2012, and have been recently joined by other journalists in spelling out and highlighting.

In the opening of its new Terms of Service, Airbnb wrote (in all caps): “IN PARTICULAR, HOSTS SHOULD UNDERSTAND HOW THE LAWS WORK IN THEIR RESPECTIVE CITIES. SOME CITIES HAVE LAWS THAT RESTRICT THEIR ABILITY TO HOST PAYING GUESTS FOR SHORT PERIODS. THESE LAWS ARE OFTEN PART OF A CITY’S ZONING OR ADMINISTRATIVE CODES. IN MANY CITIES, HOSTS MUST REGISTER, GET A PERMIT, OR OBTAIN A LICENSE BEFORE LISTING A PROPERTY OR ACCEPTING GUESTS. CERTAIN TYPES OF SHORT-TERM BOOKINGS MAY BE PROHIBITED ALTOGETHER. LOCAL GOVERNMENTS VARY GREATLY IN HOW THEY ENFORCE THESE LAWS. PENALTIES MAY INCLUDE FINES OR OTHER ENFORCEMENT. HOSTS SHOULD REVIEW LOCAL LAWS BEFORE LISTING A SPACE ON AIRBNB."

It seems like a good first step. Next we'll see whether the company follows through with paying its local taxes and working with the city on legislation to legalize more of its business model in San Francisco.

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