LA sues online vacation rental company

Atty of the City of Los Angeles. Mike Feuer announced on Monday that his office has filed a lawsuit against an online vacation rental company, claiming it has repeatedly failed to comply with city regulations on home sharing.

Feuer said HomeAway processed or completed at least 776 transactions for short-term rentals across the city between Nov. 7 and Dec. 7. Of that total, 229 — or nearly 30% — did not have a valid home-sharing registration number or a pending registration status number, as required by law, the lawsuit says.

Those numbers suggest HomeAway “has completed thousands of prohibited transactions” since the city’s short-term rental law was enacted, Feuer’s team said in its announcement.

The city is seeking up to $5,000 in financial penalties for each violation.

HomeAway acquired home-sharing platform VRBO in 2006, which rebranded itself as Vrbo in 2019, according to the Company Website.

Feuer’s lawsuit comes more than three years after City Council approval new regulations for Airbnb, Vrbo and other platforms. Under these rulesshort-term tenants are authorized to rent all or part of their main residence, but not apartment buildings or secondary residences.

Buildings covered by the city’s rent stabilization ordinance, which limits the amount of rent increases allowed in older apartments, also cannot be used for home sharing.

The council approved its home-sharing regulations after concluding that short-term vacation rentals were eating away at the city’s housing supply, driving up rents, creating nuisance and having a “negative impact on the residential character neighborhoods,” the lawsuit says.

“And when online platforms and hosts refuse to play by the rules, it allows them to unfairly compete with those who do, while depriving the city of much-needed revenue for basic services,” Feuer said in a statement.

Representatives for Expedia Group, which acquired HomeAway in 2015, did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Times. In 2020, HomeAway renamed its platforms to Vrbo, which stands for vacation rentals by owner, according to the city’s lawsuit.

Municipal cohabitation regulations define a short-term rental as a residential unit rented for 30 consecutive days or less.

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