Federal Judge Rejects Airbnb’s Bid to Block San Francisco Law

In a new blow to Airbnb, a federal judge blocked the company’s plea to strike down a San Francisco law that would require the home-rental service to remove hosts who have not registered with the city.

The company sued San Francisco in June, claiming the city’s law violates federal laws, including the Stored Communications Act, Communications Decency act and the First Amendment. U.S. District Judge James Donato on Tuesday did not agree with Airbnb’s claims, Reuters reported.

The new law expands on a previous ordinance that Airbnb helped create. It requires hosts to pay $50 to obtain a registration number from the city. All listings on sites like Airbnb must include the host’s registration number.

The law holds the host and the platform (i.e. Airbnb) criminally and civilly liable for violation of the law. Platforms may be forced to pay up to $1,000 each time a booking is processed from an unlicensed host.

If an appeal upholds the decision, it may pave the way for future laws in other cities.

The law could have significant repercussions for Airbnb, which has used similar arguments in similar legal battles with other cities.

Lawmakers across the country are looking to San Francisco to set an example on regulating the home-rental company.

Over 75% of Airbnb’s hosts in San Francisco are not registered as the law requires and are still listed on the site.

While Judge Donato blocked Airbnb’s plea to block the amendment, he noted that more work needs to be done to determine how to enforce the law.

In April, Airbnb began addressing the city’s concerns. It investigated hosts in San Francisco with multiple listings, and removed certain “commercial operators.” It has thus far removed 213 entire-house listings and 525 “hacker hotels.”

The company also announced that it would be automating its site to ensure only one property is listed by each host.