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Here Are Los Angeles's Proposed Rules For Legalizing Airbnb

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No more renting backyard RVs and no more professional landlords

Los Angeles's long-awaited rules and regulations for Airbnb and other short-term rental sites are here, at least in draft form, and there's some good news in there for people who'd like to rent their homes out. (The practice is illegal in most of the city right now.) The proposed ordinance to govern these kinds of rentals, released by the City Planning Department on Friday, would allow for residents to rent out part or all of their primary residence (the place where they live for at least six months out of the year) for as much as 90 days a year.

That might not sound like a lot, but at least sharing a full home is even on the table; Santa Monica's Airbnb rules completely outlawed the renting of entire residences.

LA plans to keep tabs on hosts and make sure they follow the rules via another part of the ordinance—the part that requires that these rental platforms turn over information about hosts, like their addresses, and counts of how many days they rented their space and for what price.

All rental property landlords would be required to register, and their registration number, displayed on their online listings, would be used to keep track of details on their rental space. Rent-controlled and designated "affordable" units would be barred from participating in home-sharing at all, as would those fun, quirky rentals for anything "not approved for residential occupancy," like trailers, weird pod-like tents, or RVs parked in people's backyards.

Short-term rental websites would be fined for not participating in the data dump, and could additionally be fined for advertising rentals that don't meet LA's rules, like a unit that's continuing to advertise itself as available even after it's already been rented out for 90 days that year, or a host advertising multiple LA listings. Both hosts and the websites they use would also be fined if a listing fails to display the rental's official registration number.

Failure to follow the rules would mean a minimum daily fine of $200 ("or two times the nightly Rent charged, whichever is greater," the ordinance reads) for a host; a host who actually rented their space out for more than 90 days in a year could be looking at a $2,000 fine. A website that displays a listing that's past its rental cap or lets a host advertise multiple listings in LA would be fined $500 a day. Websites that don't turn over their data on rental hosts face a $1,000 a day fine.

Those relatively steep fines speak to the importance of that information in enforcing the rules at all. Councilmember Mike Bonin tells the LA Times that without the data, "we're shooting blind." He adds that the city isn't looking for "a ton of deep, personal private information" on rental hosts, just the basics needed to ensure compliance: "What units are being rented? How often?"