There’s About a 1 in 5 Chance Your L.A. Airbnb Broke City Law, Report Says

Nearly one out of every five listings advertised by Airbnb hosts in L.A. over a 12-month period violated the city’s regulations on short-term rentals, according to a report
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Nearly one out of every five listings advertised by Airbnb hosts in Los Angeles over a 12-month period violated the city’s regulations on short-term rentals, according to a report prepared by a local coalition.

Better Neighbors LA—a group comprised of hotel workers, housing activists, and renters’ rights groups that has been critical of the house-sharing industry—said in their study that researchers suspect that as many as two-thirds of Airbnb listings in L.A. between November 2020 and October 2021 were operating out of compliance, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The coalition is now calling for city leaders to boost enforcement of its short-term rental law by prioritizing “the most egregious violators” and issuing larger fines for repeat offenders. They also want the city to seek data-sharing agreements with other short-term rental platforms and establish an online portal that would allow residents to determine on their own whether a nearby rental is operating legally.

The report comes about a week after City Attorney Mike Feuer filed a lawsuit against HomeAway, an online vacation rental company, for allegedly failing to comply with the city’s regulations on home-sharing last year, the Times reports. Feuer accused the company of not including a valid registration number or a pending registration status number, as required by law, in nearly 30 percent of its listings that were examined.

Better Neighbors LA used city records, public-facing data from hosting platforms, and its own research to prepare the report. The coalition said that Airbnb was out of compliance with the city’s law—which was unanimously approved in 2018—if it lacked an accurate registration number or if the property owner received a “false exemption” under the city’s law by falsely identifying the home as a hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast.

However, an Airbnb told representative told the Times that the report relies on “questionable statistics” and was designed by “a special interest group in the pocket of the hotel industry.”

Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco did not name the group she was referring to, but she said that the purpose of the report was to “undermine the ability of local residents to responsibly share their home and benefit… the entire citywide economy.”

She added that Airbnb is the only short-term rental platform to have reached an enforcement agreement with the city, a deal that requires them to share information and take down listings that are flagged as illegal by the Department of City Planning.

“As part of that, we have removed thousands of listings at the request of the city, in accordance with the law — and we will continue to do so going forward,” she said.

Nora Frost, the public information director at the Department of City Planning, told the Times that her agency has referred more than 2,100 illegal listings for citations since enforcement began in 2019. She added that during that time period, the number of short-term rental listings had significantly dropped by more than 80 percent, dipping from 36,660 to about 6,600.

Frost also said that the department is going after repeat offenders by seeking fines for a second violation that are 10 times the amount of the first. “We’ve escalated the cost of our citations to further deter bad actors,” she said.


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