Law in the News: Judge tosses challenge to SF ‘Airbnb law’ but future suits likely

Just days before San Francisco’s “Airbnb law” is scheduled to take effect, a federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a challenge to the law from rival vacation-rental firm HomeAway but left the door open for HomeAway customers to file their own lawsuit.

The ordinance legalizes and regulates vacation-rentals in private homes. HomeAway claimed that it was tailored for Airbnb’s business model and asked for a preliminary injunction to stop it from taking effect Sunday. That implementation date can go forward, the court ruled.

HomeAway’s objections focused on residency and tax requirements.

Most of the 1,200 San Francisco rentals advertised on HomeAway and its subsidiary VRBO are second homes, whose owners live elsewhere and thus don’t meet the permanent residency requirement. And the law said that “hosting platforms” must collect and remit San Francisco’s 14 percent hotel tax. HomeAway argued that it is not a middleman like Airbnb, which handles the entire rental transaction, but merely a marketplace — more like Craigslist or the newspaper classifieds — where homeowners can list the spaces.

Read full article on SFGate