Become a Certified Host

Return to Office of Short-Term Rentals

Conditions of eligibility

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

Host conditions:
  • Permanent resident of San Francisco
  • Owner or tenant of the unit you plan to rent
  • Lived in your dwelling for at least 60 days before applying
  • Plan to live in the unit for at least 275 nights/year
Dwelling conditions:
  • Must be compliant with all City codes
  • Cannot be located 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
  • Must be permitted and designed for residential use. Commercial and industrial spaces are not permitted.
  • Cannot be subject to an Ellis Act eviction after November, 2014
  • Cannot have sleeping quarters in outdoor areas, including treehouses and vehicles

You can continue the steps to be a host if you meet all the conditions above.

How do I become a certified host?

You may only host short-term rentals in the same home (dwelling unit) where you ALSO live as a permanent resident (e.g. present at least 275 nights per year). If a property features multiple dwelling units, then you may only host short-term rentals in the same dwelling unit where you also live as a permanent resident. This is a core requirement of the City's short-term rental rules, which are intended to preserve long-term housing availability/opportunities and preserve neighborhood character.

Short-term rentals in residences are only legal if:

  1. you are registered with the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, and
  2. you have also received a certificate from the Office of Short-Term-Rentals

If you are not certified and you advertise/rent a dwelling unit for periods of less than 30 nights, you are violating the City's short-term rental laws, and are subject to possible enforcement action, including substantial penalties.

You may host short-term rentals if:

  1. you have a complete application pending review with the Office of Short-Term Rentals
  2. you currently reside in the dwelling unit, and
  3. there are no City complaints pending against the entire property

Please note that the Office of Short-Term Rentals cannot require hosting platforms to operate a listing while an application is pending. Also, please note that if you are a renter, OSTR cannot require the property owner to allow your short-term rental activity in the event that private leases, or other private agreements, prohibit such activity. If the application is ultimately denied, then the host would need to cease short-term rentals.

Fines and penalties for illegal short-term rental hosting

Violations of the City’s short-term rental laws are subject to penalties of at least $484 per day for each dwelling unit in violation. These daily penalties begin on the day that a Notice of Violation is issued by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, 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.

Registering and your privacy

The San Francisco Property Information Map (under the "Planning Apps" tab) shows whether a short-term rental registry application has been approved for a property. No other identifying information from your application is posted online or provided to the public.

Step 1 of 2: Register as a business

Note: This step must be finalized before you can register as a certified host with our office.

Obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Visit The San Francisco Business Portal to learn more about applying for a Business Registration Certificate online.

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 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 2 of 2: Register to become a certified host

Obtain a host certificate (valid for 2 years) from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. You may only offer (list/advertise) short-term-rentals after you have received this certificate (or, if you have a complete application pending, with our Office, for an eligible host and eligible property), and your certificate number must be posted on all listings advertising your short-term rental.

Review the eligibility requirements below. Please do not apply if you do not reside full-time at the individual dwelling unit (apartment/suite/home) as a permanent resident (please see the "Am I Eligible for Hosting?" section).

Please note that staff can arrange for assistance in different languages, if needed. In-person appointments do not result in a faster review. 

After you submit a complete application, if you would like to start listing your property on a hosting website (platform) and need assistance enabling short-term stays, please contact us at shortermrentals@sfgov.org and provide your name and property address including unit number, if any.

The $450 application fee is valid for two-years from when the short-term rental application is approved. The application fee is based on a provision of the City’s short-term rental law, which requires application fees to reflect the operating costs for administering the City’s short-term rental program. This program is funded primarily by application fees and enforcement penalties; and does not include funding from hotel taxes (also known as transient occupancy taxes).

Am I eligible for hosting?

In order to start hosting short-term residential rentals in your home you must meet all of the following conditions:

1. Be the permanent resident

You must live in the actual dwelling unit (e.g. apartment, suite, condominium) that you wish to offer as a short-term rental for at least 275 nights of any given calendar year, as either an owner or a tenant. If your property features multiple dwelling units, you may not live in one dwelling unit, while operating short-term rentals in a different dwelling unit.

  • If you are a new resident, you must have resided in this specific dwelling for at least 60 consecutive days prior to your application.
  • If you own/rent a multi-unit building, you may only register the specific residential unit (apartment, suite, condominium) in which you reside.

Ineligible properties (where short-term rentals are not allowed), and rules for Live/Work Units & Hotels

Are you a tenant (renter), condominium owner, or TIC owner?

Many private agreements such as leases, homeowner’s association bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting (or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental). While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.

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, we 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, we will send a courtesy notice to the owner(s) of your unit to inform them of your application. You may also need to provide a copy of your lease to staff.

If you are a renter and your dwelling unit is also subject to rent control rules, you may not make more than your monthly rent from short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.

To see if a property (home, condominium or apartment) is already registered to host short-term rentals,visit the City's Property Information Map, search for the address of the property, and click on the 'Planning Apps' tab. A Short-Term Rental Certificate will be listed (at the bottom of the Planning Apps screen) if one is currently active on the property.

Please note that pending or denied applications are not displayed on the Property Information Map.

Frequently Asked Question Item: Approximately 16% of registered short-term rental hosts identified themselves as a renter on their short-term rental application. However, it appears a number of those applicants that indicated they were renting the unit, appear to share the same surname as the property owner.

Neighborhood notification for some single-family neighborhoods (RH-1D Zoning Districts)

For properties located in RH-1(D) zoning districts, neighborhood notification is required. This means that if you live in one of these districts, after you submit a complete application we will send a courtesy notice, with your name and address, to all property owners and residential tenants who live within 300 feet of your unit (and nearby neighborhood groups registered with the Planning Department). They will have 45 days to submit comments to us. Neighborhood input will only affect your application if someone submits sufficient evidence that you, or your unit is not eligible to host short-term rentals.

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

Many private agreements such as homeowner’s association (HOA) bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental. While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals (OSTR) strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.

Please note that OSTR staff cannot deny an application in an RH-1D zoning district on the basis of HOA rules, generalized parking concerns, or proximity to schools. The core requirements for eligibility are the same throughout the City.

2. Have property liability insurance

You must have property liability insurance in the amount of no less than $500,000, or provide proof that property liability coverage in an equal or higher amount is being provided by any and all hosting platforms through which you will rent your unit. Proof of liability insurance is not required if hosting activity is only handed by a platform (website) that already extends similar liability coverage.

3. Resolve any code violations

Ensure that your dwelling unit remains compliant with all Building, Housing, Planning, and other City codes. If your dwelling unit (apartment/suite) is located within an apartment building or tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, then the entire property (including other dwelling units) must be compliant and not subject to Code Enforcement.

4. Observe Group Housing limits

The City's short-term rental program is not intended to serve as a vehicle to operate a home as a de facto tourist hostel and in a manner that is not generally associated with primary residential use and character. So for example, if the host is present overnight throughout the year in the residential unit, they may not host more than four (4) simultaneous distinct renters (whether long-term or short-term) in the same residential unit. For the purpose of this example, a couple sharing a bedroom and a single reservation would count as one distinct renter toward the limit.

What is allowed once I'm a certified host?

Once you have received a Short-Term Residential Rental Registration Number you may:
  • Put up listing(s) on hosting platform websites (including your registration number in all listings).
  • Rent a portion of your unit for less than 30 consecutive nights while you are also present (hosted rentals) for an unlimited number of nights per calendar year
  • Rent a portion or your entire unit for less than 30 consecutive nights while you are not present (unhosted rentals), for a maximum of 90 nights per calendar year
What you may never do with your registered dwelling unit:
  • You may never rent your residential unit or a portion of your home for more than 90 nights per calendar year while you are not also present overnight during the time of the guests' stay.
  • You may never rent illegal residential units, or those areas within your home that were built without completed building permits.
  • If you are a tenant (renter) in a rent-controlled unit, you may never make more than your monthly rent from your short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.
  • You may not host (rent) more than 4 individual short-term rental reservations within your dwelling unit at the same time (i.e. offer no more than 5 individual beds as separate, bookable listings).

Register Here

Before You Begin

Earning income from a short-term residential rental, regardless of the amount, is considered a business. Therefore, you are required to obtain a Business Registration Number, also known as a Business Account Number, or BAN.

Register your hosting business with the Treasurer & Tax Collector before registering with the Office of Short Term Rentals. Based on eligibility rules, BAN registration for short-term rentals should be free.

If you already have another type of business registered in San Francisco, you can update your account to add your hosting business. Select industry type “Accommodations”.

NOTE: Hosting short-term rentals without registration numbers from both the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and the Office of Short-Term Residential Rentals can result in significant fines and penalties.

Start Your Registration

If you’ve made it this far you’ve completed the following steps:

  • Determined you’re eligible to be a host
  • Understand the Rules & Regulations
  • Received your BAN from the Treasurer & Tax Collector

You are now ready to apply. Please be aware there is a $450 NON-REFUNDABLE application fee. If approved, your application is good for 2 years. If denied, your $450 application fee is not reimbursable.

Apply in one of the following ways:

Frequently Asked Questions

What if my application is rejected or my certificate is revoked or suspended?

If your application for a certificate is rejected, suspended, or if a previously-issued certificate has been revoked by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, you may file a written appeal within thirty calendar days from the date of the notice of rejection, suspension, or revocation. Hosts must cancel any pending reservations (for stays of less than 30 days) and remove any online listings (offering stays of less than 30 days), if an application is denied (even if an appeal is filed), or if a certificate is suspended or revoked (even if an appeal is filed). For further information, please review these procedures.

Return to Office of Short-Term Rentals