A federal judge has rejected the arguments of Airbnb and HomeAway that their online listings and subsequent transactions are protected by the First Amendment and Federal Communications Decency Act, upholding San Francisco’s amended Short-Term rentals law which now requires hosting platforms to verify that the units they offer for rent in San Francisco have been registered with the City prior to allowing a booking.
If enforced, Airbnb and other hosting platforms could face penalties of up to $1,000 for each booking of an unregistered unit. Airbnb currently manages an estimated 9,500 listings in San Francisco, up to 75 percent of which remain unregistered.
That being said, acknowledging that a mechanism for the prompt and effective verification of a unit’s registration with the City has yet to be established, San Francisco has voluntarily agreed to not enforce its law until the details for such a mechanism are ironed out.
A conference to review newly requested briefings with respect to establishing an acceptable verification and enforcement system has been slated for next week, after which Judge James Donato will decide whether or not to grant a temporary injunction to legally prohibit San Francisco from enforcing the law.