FAQs on Short-Term Rentals

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What is a short-term rental?

A short-term residential rental is a rental of all or a portion of your home for periods of less than 30 nights. For a more complete overview, read the Short-Term Rental Ordinance in the San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 41A.

What kind of short-term rentals are legal?

You must be the permanent resident of the unit you wish to rent

To be considered the permanent resident, you must spend at least 275 nights a year in the unit where you host short-term rentals. If you own/rent a multi-unit building, you may only register the specific residential unit in which you reside. Also see: "Ineligible Properties."

You must be registered with the City as a business and as a short-term rental

You may only offer short-term rentals once you have obtained a Business Registration Certificate for your property from the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, and then received a certificate** from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. The certificate number must be posted on all listings advertising a short-term rental. Learn more about becoming a legal short-term rental host.

**You may host short-term rentals if you have a complete application pending review with our Office; currently reside in the dwelling unit (as a permanent resident); and there are also no City complaints pending against the entire property. Please note that our Office cannot require hosting platforms to operate a listing while an application is pending (but please contact us if you run into this issue as we may be able to assist you to start listing in a few days). Also, please note that if you are a renter, our Office 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.

You may only rent 90 unhosted nights per year

"Unhosted rentals" occur when you are not present in your unit during your guests' stay. Registered hosts may only conduct unhosted short-term rentals for up to 90 nights per calendar year. This is in addition to the core rule that you may only host short-term rentals in the home where you also live at least 275 nights per year.

Did the primary law on short-term rentals change?

Yes. Prior to 2015, all short-term residential rentals (stays of less than 30 days) were illegal in San Francisco (per the City's Planning Code). This included rentals for the entire home, or just a portion (e.g. private room listings). However, beginning in February 2015, hosts were eligible to register, with the Office of Short-Term Rentals, in order to host limited short-term rentals; and only in eligible homes where the host also lives at least 275 nights per year. Even if you hold a business registration from the SF Tax Collector and remit hotel taxes, short-term rental hosts are required to register with the Office of Short-Term Rentals.

What properties are ineligible for short-term rentals?

Certain types of properties are never eligible for short-term rental. Please contact us at shorttermrentals@sfgov.org if you are not sure how your property is classified.

  1. Income-restricted affordable housing, including Below-Market-Rate (BMR) units and public housing.
  2. Student housing, dormitories and Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) buildings. However, some SROs are allowed (subject to Department of Building Inspection - Housing Inspection Services regulation) to offer short-term rentals during the "tourist season," which runs from May 1 through September 30. See Section 41.19 of the San Francisco Administrative Code.
  3. Buildings subject to an Ellis Act (No Fault) eviction after November 1, 2014 (even if by a prior property owner).
  4. Legally-established Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs); which are a specific type of "in-law" or "granny flat" approved by the Department of Building Inspection. Only rentals/listings for 30 days or longer, per guest (30-day minimum stay), are allowed in ADUs. Please note that "housekeeping units" are not classified as ADUs; but are considered an entirely separate individual dwelling unit. Short-term rentals hosts must live in the same individual dwelling unit, so they could not reside in the main unit and utilize the "housekeeping units" for short-term rentals (or vice versa).
  5. Sleeping quarters in most shipping containers and outdoor areas, including tipis (teepees) and tree houses.
  6. Sleeping quarters in vans or (RVs) recreational vehicles (this may also violate the Police Code). RVs are not considered residential units.
  7. Non-residential areas within buildings, such as living/sleeping quarters added in garages.
  8. Commercial office/retail or industrial (warehouse) spaces.
  9. Properties located in Treasure Island, Fort Mason, or The Presidio.
  10. Boats or similar watercraft (prohibited by Harbormasters); unless a sole operator at Pier 39 not subject to OSTR registration.
  11. Group Housing properties, which are subject to the Planning Code (plus other Building & Housing Codes), and are not eligible for registration as a short-term rental under Chapter 41A of the Administrative Code. Legal Group Housing properties may offer stays of no less than seven (7) days per guest.
Rules for Residential Hotels
  • A limited number of Residential Hotels are allowed to offer tourist hotel (short-term) stays in a portion of their rooms, based on a list maintained by the Department of Building Inspection.
  • Those specific rooms may be offered for tourist stays without registering with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Operators may list these tourist-licensed rooms using their business account number (BAN) issued by the Tax Collector, in lieu of a short-term rental registration number.
Rules for Tourist Hotels or Timeshares
  • "Tourist Hotels" (which are different from Residential Hotels), and Timeshare properties (if approved as a timeshare unit by the Department of Building Inspection) are allowed to offer tourist hotel (short-term) stays in all units.
  • Tourist Hotels and Timeshares are not required to register (nor eligible) with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. These properties may still require a (separate) business registration certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Operators may list these specific units using their business account number (BAN) issued by the Tax Collector, in lieu of a short-term rental registration number.
  • Timeshare properties include 586-598 Bush Street (even numbers only), 2198 Jackson Street, 1000-1006 Pine Street (even numbers only), 2655 Hyde Street, 3000 Pine Street, 329-333 Fulton Street (odd numbers only), 441 Mason Street, 501 Post Street, 710-730 Powell Street (even numbers only), 690 Market Street, and 900 North Point Street, 726 Sutter Street and 750 Sutter Street.
  • If you run into a problem listing these units on a hosting platform, please contact OSTR staff via e-mail and provide the street address, unit number, if applicable, and listing information.
Rules for Live/Work Units or Artist Live-Work Units
  • You can host short-term rentals in the residential portion of a live/work unit or "artist live/work unit," if you are a permanent resident of that unit and both live in AND host short-term rental guests exclusively in the "live" area of the unit.
  • Short-term rental activity (e.g. sleeping, lounging/resting, or cooking areas) is NOT allowed in the "work" portion of the live/work or artist live/work unit. This is typically noted as such in a Notice of Special Restrictions, or "NSR," recorded on the overall property.
  • You may not reside in the "work" area and use the "live" area of the live/work or artist live/work unit for short-term rentals.
  • Please note that many NSRs require that the resident of an artist live/work unit use the work space for specific types of arts-related business activities and hold a business registration for that specific activity. Short-term rentals would not be considered qualifying business activity.

What are the laws regarding other types of rentals?

Rentals Longer than 30 Nights: Renter Rights and Rent Control

Rentals for more than 30 consecutive nights (by the same visitors) are not subject to short-term rental regulations or subject to hotel (transient occupancy) taxes. Business personal property taxes may still apply (administered by the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder).

In addition, rental/tenant protections and rent control provisions may apply to stays of 30 days or more. The Office of Short-Term Rentals cannot provide advice on tenant protection or rent control rules and laws. Contact the San Francisco Rent Board for more information.

If rentals are offered for more than 30 nights per guest stay (for those dwelling units not authorized to offer short-term rentals by the Office of Short-Term Rentals), ensure that booking calendars and advertisements for all online listings clearly indicate a 30-day minimum stay.

Renting Your Home for Meetings and Events

Some hosts use online platforms to rent out portions of their home for daytime events such as work space usage by individuals booking short time segments; or for ceremonies, conferences or meetings. This type of activity generally violates Planning Code rules if the space being used is intended for residential use.

Short-Term Rentals in Commercial and Industrial Buildings

Short-term rentals may only be hosted in areas that are permitted for residential use. For example, short-term rentals may not be held in a institutional, commercial or industrial building, unless a specific portion of the building is authorized (per the Department of Building Inspection) as a residential dwelling unit. In addition, vehicles (including RVs and Camper Vans) and temporary structures (such as tents, sheds, tree houses, etc.) may not be used for short-term rentals. Short-term rentals can be hosted in residential portions of live-work units; if the host is a permanent resident. However, the short-term rental activity is not considered a qualifying business activity in those specific live-work units where a notice of special restrictions (NSR), recorded on the property, requires a business activity/registration for the "work" area. Also see: "Ineligible Properties."

What is the basis for the City and County of San Francisco to create regulations for short-term rentals?

The San Francisco Charter references San Francisco’s authority as a charter city to make and enforce all local laws and regulations that are not in conflict with general state laws per the California Constitution, Article XI, Section 7.

Platform compliance

San Francisco’s Short-Term Rental Ordinance (Administrative Code Chapter 41A) includes certain requirements for hosting platforms offering short-term rental bookings in San Francisco. Specifically, platforms must:

  • Verify that any home offered for short-term rental is lawfully registered with OSTR before the platform may provide, or collect a fee for, booking services for that unit. This registration requirement does not apply to units specifically approved by the Department of Building Inspection (DBI) as timeshare units or tourist hotels ("residential hotels" are subject to different DBI rules that vary by property).
  • Submit a monthly affidavit to OSTR affirming that they have exercised reasonable care to verify that hosts utilizing their service are lawfully registered with OSTR.
  • Maintain business records for no less than the prior three years for each of their hosts and short-term rental transactions, and provide this information to OSTR upon request.

Please refer to the summary letter and Administrative Guidelines below for further instructions. If platforms fail to comply with these requirements, they may be subject to enforcement action and penalties.

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