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Malibu Busting Out Subpoenas to Make Airbnb Landlords Pay Up

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Malibu residents don't like anything that they fret might alter the "character" of their 'hood (like celebrity rehab centers, tigers, or chain stores), so it's no surprise that many are complaining about noisy, inconsiderate people they say are coming into their beachy, wealthy hamlet to stay in short-term vacation rentals. What is surprising is the city's novel approach to the rentals: instead of trying to fully outlaw the practice, local government has decided to try and make some money off of it, reports the LA Times. Already having recognized that people want to rent beachside houses (duh), Malibu has a law on the books that allows homeowners to rent out their homes if they register them with the city and agree to pay the 12 percent hotel tax—a city councilmember occasionally rents her house out this way. (There are currently 40 houses registered, and they collectively generate about $225,000 a year in taxes.) So as Malibu sees it, the people who have chosen to list their homes through websites like Airbnb now owe them some money.

Malibu plans to take what's owed by serving subpoenas to more than 60 short-term rental websites in order to track down hotel-tax dodgers. City officials say that they are not interested in being hostile to short-term rentals, but they are interested in making sure those taxes get paid. It seems almost certain that this won't satisfy residents who outright oppose the rentals, but it might be on the right track to figuring out a way to regulate short-term stays without killing the practice off entirely. Rentals like this (most notoriously via Airbnb) have already run into trouble with residents in Venice, Silver Lake, and WeHo, but Malibu's the first to cut straight to hunting down and taxing the property owners. In LA, the legality of short-term rentals is shadowy at best, but is almost definitely not legal in the majority of places.
· Malibu to crack down on short-term rentals via Airbnb, other websites [LAT]
· The Few Places in Los Angeles Where Airbnbs Might be Legal [Curbed LA]