Airbnb Settles San Francisco Suit

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 03, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Airbnb has settled a suit with San Francisco, and will require people to register with the city when they rent-out their homes through the company's website.

The company, which lists rental lodgings in 65,000 cities worldwide, agreed to share names, addresses and zip codes of hosts in the city. San Francisco has only 2,100 on its records, but Airbnb has more than 8,000 in the city.

"Every host on the Airbnb platform will be registered, which is what the city has said it will be looking for," said Chris Lehane, global policy chief for the company. Registration will debut for Airbnb hosts in San Francisco in 2018.

Booking and Offering

The issue arose last year when the city enacted an ordinance, making it illegal for Airbnb to collect fees for booking rentals that had not been registered with the city. The company fought the ordinance in court, but settled in an apparent plan to resolve similar issues in other cities as well.

According to reports, Airbnb is trying to improve relationships with governments as it positions itself for a public offering. It recently closed a $1 billion round of funding, and it valued at approximately $31 billion.

Reuters reported that the settlement is the latest indication that Airbnb is relaxing its long-standing resistance to turning over information to city officials. In an interview with reporters, Lehane said the company has retreated somewhat from its earlier arguments that federal laws protect internet service providers from liability for information posted by users.

"We fundamentally do believe that platforms need to take responsibility," Lehane said.

Regulatory Challenges

CNBC reported last month that Airbnb is the second most valuable start-up since Uber, and like the ride-sharing service, faces "many" regulatory challenges.

"It is unlikely that the home-sharing start-up run by CEO Brain Chesky goes public anytime soon," CNBC reported.

The company has raised $3 billion since its founding in 2008 and became profitable for the first time last year.

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