About The Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego
The Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego is comprised of individuals who share a portion of, or their entire home(s) on online websites/services such as AirBNB, VRBO, Homeaway, Tripping, Roomorama, and countless others. The majority of us live on the property we invite others to stay in/on, and started utilizing these services as a means to pay bills, mortgage, other debt, etc. in addition to meeting new people and making new friends from around the world.
The Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego will lobby and collaborate with city and other local politicians to develop, outline, and implement meaningful regulations regarding short-term rentals within the City of San Diego.
The United States (and around the world) has seen the proliferation of home sharing through such services as AirBNB, VRBO, Homeaway, and many others. Not only is home sharing a great way to travel and save on lodging, but also a great way for hosts to make extra money while everyone involved gets to meet new people from around the globe.
Hosts list a portion (or in some cases all) of their home(s) on a home sharing website, such as AirBNB. In the case of AirBNB, if someone is interested in booking a host’s listing, they submit and inquiry through the website. Once the host approves the guest for their stay, AirBNB collects the money (plus a service fee) and holds that money until the guest’s stay has begun. Once a guest “checks in,” AirBNB sends the money (minus a service fee) to the host for the guest’s visit.
San Diego, like many other cities, has regulations for transient (short-term) guests that were created many years ago to prevent commercial lodging operations from taking place in residential parts of the city. These regulations also place taxation requirements on transient guests, who are to be taxed based on the total price of their stay – again regulations meant for commercial operations such as hotels, motels, commercial bed & breakfasts, etc.
The need for affordable lodging was born out of necessity, with expensive hotels being out of the price range for many consumers, making travel not affordable. The story of AirBNB is not unlike many other home sharing services – a way to connect travelers with locals willing to share their home for a price far below “traditional” transient lodging.
Fast forward to 2015. AirBNB has over 3,490 listings in San Diego alone. The majority of these listings are individuals sharing a portion of their home and go largely unnoticed to neighbors. Guests come and go without incident, and get to experience life in San Diego without being stuck in a hotel room. There are also some individuals who have made a business out of home sharing, and have multiple properties listed on home sharing websites.
98% of home sharing hosts never have an issue with their guests. That doesn’t mean the likelihood of that happening is gone 100%. Just like there’s a chance at having a neighbor move in next door who causes problems in the neighborhood – so is the possibility with home sharing. The hosts/listing that have come “onto the radar” usually are due to disruptions to neighbors in the form of loud/unruly guests, parking issues, or other complaints.
In any case, here’s what has happened to some of our member hosts:
- Unhappy neighbors (either due to problems with guests, or lack of support for home sharing) have complained to police, code enforcement, and other city departments, causing these departments to scrutinize the home sharing industry.
- Code enforcement has cited hosts/listings for code enforcement violations, “unlawful” living spaces, or cited structures for not being up to building code (even though the structure was purchased as-is with no code enforcement issues previously).
- The city treasurer has begun to track down home sharing hosts, and issue Transient Occupancy Tax and Tourism Marketing District tax bills to hosts for past years (with no proof of money charged/earned) and attached the maximum 25% late penalty. This has resulted in tax bills in the amount of $8000-$40,000+ for some hosts.
- Upon reviewing municipal codes and regulations, a large gray area remains surrounding home sharing and what regulations hosts are, and are not bound to abide by.
After falling victim to some of the above issues, and receiving punitive notices from the city, some of our founding members began to search for others with similar stories, and found that we are not alone. In January of 2015, we first met to discuss our respective home sharing stories, issues with the city, and decided that time for change is long overdue.
Thus, we formed the Short Term Rental Alliance of San Diego, and hope to see positive change in how the city recognizes and governs the home sharing industry in America’s Finest City.