Become a Certified Host

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Overview of the Eligibility Requirements

Based on Charter 41A of the City’s Administrative Code, to rent a Residential Unit for less than 30 days, you must meet the following conditions:

Host conditions:
  • Be a permanent resident of San Francisco
  • Be the owner or tenant of the Residential Unit you plan to offer for short-term rental
  • Have lived in your Residential Unit for at least 60 days before applying to the Office of Short-Term Rentals
  • Plan to live in the Residential Unit for at least 275 nights per calendar year
  • Offer as a short-term rental only that Residential Unit, and no other Residential Unit, in which you live at least 275 nights per calendar year
  • Secure a valid business registration certificate from the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector
  • Maintain liability insurance in an amount not less than $500,000 covering short-term rental use
Residential Unit conditions:
  • Must be compliant with all City codes and free of any open enforcement actions
  • Cannot be in The Presidio, Fort Mason, or Treasure Island
  • Cannot be a Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) or dormitory
  • Cannot be a Below-Market-Rate (BMR) or Public Housing unit
  • Cannot be an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU)
  • Must be permitted and designed for residential use. Commercial and industrial spaces are not permitted to conduct short-term rentals
  • Cannot be subject to an Ellis Act eviction after November, 2014
  • Cannot have sleeping quarters for guests or hosts in outdoor areas, including treehouses and vehicles, or in a separate detached structure

The core requirement of the City’s Short-Term Rental Regulations is that the host is the Permanent Resident of the Residential Unit which they are offering for short-term rental.  Permanent Residency is achieved by living and sleeping in one’s Residential Unit at least 275 nights per calendar year.

If you are the Permanent Resident of a Residential Unit, you may conduct short-term rentals upon submission of an application to the Office of Short-Term Rentals and compliance with the other operational requirements outlined in Administrative Code Chapter 41A and summarized above and discussed below.  Please note that the Office of Short-Term Rentals cannot require hosting platforms to operate a listing while an application is pending and cannot offer technical assistance in navigating any host platform websites.

Be aware that violations of the City’s short-term rental laws are subject to penalties of at least $484 per day for each Residential Unit in violation. These daily penalties begin on the day that the Office of Short-Term Rentals issues a Notice of Violation and continue to accrue until the violation is fully abated. Repeat violations may be subject to escalated penalties and referral to the City’s Attorney’s Office for additional civil and/or criminal penalties.

How do I become a certified host?

Follow the three steps indicated below.

Step 1: Review the eligibility criteria

Permanent Residency 
Only natural persons may be Permanent Residents and only Permanent Residents are allowed to conduct short-term rentals.  

Permanent Residency is achieved by living and sleeping overnight in one’s Residential Unit at least 275 nights per calendar year.  If you have not owned or rented the Residential Unit for the full preceding calendar year, you must have lived and slept overnight in that Residential Unit for at least 75% of the days you have owned or rented the Residential Unit.  Please note that prior to applying to the Office of Short-Term Rentals, you must have also lived and slept overnight in the Residential Unit at least 60 consecutive nights.  

A Permanent Resident may only offer for short-term rental one Residential Unit.  Despite living in or owning a multi-unit building, one may not live in one Residential Unit and offer for short-term rental a different Residential Unit.

Liability Insurance
The Permanent Resident must maintain liability insurance appropriate to cover the Short-Term Residential Rental Use in the aggregate of not less than $500,000.  Alternatively, the Permanent Resident may conduct each Short-Term Residential Rental transaction through a Hosting Platform that provides equal or greater liability insurance coverage.

Residential Unit Standards 
The Residential Unit offered for short-term rental must comply with all San Francisco municipal codes, including the Housing Code and its requirements for sleeping areas and habitable spaces.  

The Residential Unit must also be free of open enforcement cases or actions.  If the Residential Unit (apartment/suite) is located within an apartment building or tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, then the entire property (including other Residential Units) must comply with all San Francisco municipal codes and not subject to a code enforcement case or action.

Residential Unit Types
The Residential Unit cannot be a Below Market Rate (BMR) unit; a public housing unit; a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) unit; a dormitory; an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU); a commercial space; an industrial space; a boat; a van, motor vehicle, or recreational vehicle; a property located in Treasure Island, Fort Mason, or the Presidio.

For Permanent Residents in rent controlled Residential Units, the amount in short-term rental charges/fees earned in any one month cannot exceed what the Permanent Resident pays to their landlord per month.
 

Step 2: Register as a business

If you believe you meet the eligibility requirements, you must register as a business prior to submitting an application to the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Visit the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collectors to obtain a Business Registration Certificate.

Recommendations:

  • When you complete the online business registration, make sure to use the street address of your home where you plan to host short-term rentals as the "business location." Include the apartment/condominium suite number or suffix, if applicable. For example: "222 49th Avenue Unit B." Do not use a post office box as the physical business location.
  • Indicate "YES" when asked if your business involves short-term rentals, and indicate "YES" when asked if your business involves transient occupancy tax ("hotel taxes"); and "NO" for utility users tax.
  • For the business type field, choose: "Accommodations."
  • For the business name you have a number of options, including using your own name (a fictitious business name, or "LLC" is not required), or using the street address number and street name as the business name. Please note that your name as the Permanent Resident must be included on your Business Registration, for example under the Ownership Name.
  • Please do not choose "exempt" for business licensing, as that option is typically reserved for non-profit organizations.

If you already have a business registration for a separate type of business you operate in San Francisco, then update your account with the SF Treasurer and add a "new business location" for Accommodations at the physical address of the residential unit. You can still add a second location even if it is the same location as your current business location.

Step 3: Register to become a certified host

Begin the process of obtaining a host certificate by submitting an application to the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Once you have successfully submitted an application, you may offer your Residential Unit on a hosting platform website.

Please note that you must include your unique record number (e.g. 2023-123456STR) for your application on every listing offering your Residential Unit for short-term rental while your application is under review. Please also note that the Office of Short-Term Rentals cannot require a hosting platform to activate a listing. The OSTR also cannot assist in any technical manner, including on how to complete any applications or other forms from a hosting platform, or in getting a listing activated on a hosting platform. Please note that there is no expiration date on a pending application and the OSTR can only provide a record number (e.g.2023-123456STR) to identify your application and listing. Should you encounter problems navigating a host platform website, please reach out to the customer service agents for that website.

If you are offering entire home guest stays (un-hosted) and shared home/private room guest stays (hosted), you must offer them on separate listings. For example, one listing should be solely dedicated to booking entire home guest stays (un-hosted), and a different listing should be used for shared home/private room guest stays (hosted). Please note that to maintain Permanent Residency, one may not conduct more than 90 nights of entire home guest stays (un-hosted) in any calendar year. One must also live and sleep overnight in that Residential Unit for at least 275 nights per calendar year. Any un-hosted guest stays of 30+ nights will be considered when determining whether you have lived and slept in your Residential Unit for at least 275 nights per calendar year. There is no limit to the number of shared home/private room guest stays (hosted) in any calendar year.

You may not host more than five (5) distinct renters (whether long-term, intermediate length, or short-term) simultaneously in the same Residential Unit. For example, a couple sharing a bedroom and a single reservation would count as one distinct renter toward the limit.

During the period after you submit an application, the Office of Short-Term Rentals will review your application for compliance with the City’s short-term rental regulations. During this application review period, you are allowed to host guests. During this period you are not required to, and cannot, file quarterly reports.

If you are a resident (whether a co-owner or tenant) of a tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, or are a co-owner of your dwelling unit, the Office of Short-Term Rentals will send a notice of your application to all co-owners of the building.

If you are a renter (tenant), in any type of property, the Office of Short-Term Rentals will send a notice to the owner(s) of your unit to inform them of your application. If you are in a rent controlled Residential Unit, the amount in short-term rental charges/fees earned in any one month cannot exceed what is paid to the landlord per month.

For Residential Units located in RH-1(D) zoning districts, the Office of Short-Term Rentals will send a notice to all property owners and residential tenants who live within 300 feet of your Residential Unit (and nearby neighborhood groups registered with the Planning Department). Notice recipients will have 45 days to submit comments to the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Neighborhood input will only affect your application if someone submits sufficient evidence that you or your Residential Unit is ineligible to host short-term rentals.

You may check if you live in an RH-1(D) district on the Property Information Map. Search for your address, and then choose the Zoning Information link on the left to see your zoning district.

Applicants may be asked to provide business records, including booking calendars and host reservation schedules, and any relevant tenant leases to the Office of Short-Term Rentals as part of the application review process. The City’s short-term rental regulations require these records to be kept and made available to the Office of Short-Term Rentals upon request. The Office of Short-Term Rentals may also request to conduct a site visit of your Residential Unit as part of its application review.

Please note that while private agreements such as leases, homeowner’s association bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) may prohibit short-term rental activity, the Office of Short-Term Rentals cannot enforce these private agreements through its application review. The Office of Short-Term Rentals cannot bar someone from submitting an application on the basis of any private agreement that prohibits short-term rental activity. The Office of Short-Term Rentals will base its application review on the regulations found in Administrative Code Chapter 41A.

You are now ready to apply

Please be aware there is a NON-REFUNDABLE application fee. If approved, your application is good for two (2) years after the approval date.  If your application is denied, your application fee is not reimbursable.

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