San Diego aims to clarify rules for Airbnb hosts

San Diego aims to clarify rules for Airbnb hosts

Some San Diego landlords who rent rooms using and similar websites say they aren’t sure what taxes they have to pay. The city is working to change that.

The City of San Diego Treasurer is working to clarify regulations for hosts who use and similar websites for short-term room rentals, according to a memo sent to the mayor and city council last week.

The city recently sent 252 letters to AirBnB and other hosts telling them they owe taxes on the rooms they rent. Host suppression was first reported by Voice of San Diegoan online news organization.

“Through our efforts, we have seen an increase in requests and payments,” City Treasurer Gail Granewich wrote in the memo.

City Memo on AirBnB rentals

A memo from the San Diego Treasurer to the Mayor and City Council on efforts to clarify regulations for hosts who use websites like to rent rooms.

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Since Feb. 10, 1,776 short-term rental operators have been registered with the city, an increase of 187 since Oct. 1, she wrote. She said the surge in registrations means the city has collected more than $105,000 in taxes “and related penalties” from 95 of the 187 newly registered hosts. These penalties may include back taxes and late fees. Granewich wrote that the city had seen an almost 400% increase in taxes and fees compared to the same period last year.

Landlords who rent out rooms on a short-term basis must pay three types of taxes:

• The Business tax on rental unitsthat the owners must themselves declare and pay each year.

• The Transitional occupancy taxa 10.5% tax imposed on any rental of less than one month.

• The Tourism Marketing District Assessmenta 0.55% tax on rents in buildings with less than 30 units.

In addition to sending out letters, the city treasurer’s office recently updated the city’s website with the bylaws and sent out 90,000 “Did You Know” inserts with annual rental unit business tax bills. , reminding guests to pay their taxes.

But landlords who are not registered to pay rental housing tax would not get this information.

The treasurer’s note does not mention conditional use permits, which are required in some neighborhoods for landlords looking to rent rooms. It can take a year to get these permits, The voice of San Diego reported.

Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who chairs the city council’s smart growth and land use committee, is asking council members to submit ideas to change the city’s municipal code on tenancies before a committee meeting on April 22.

Councilman Chris Cate said his office reviewed the municipal code and found the term “short-term rental property” was not defined, “so there’s a lot of ambiguity when it comes to the rules of owners who rent out their property or part of their home for less than 30 days must comply.”

He said the three required taxes are in different sections of the municipal code, so he hopes to clarify that.

“We’re trying to get all of these things clear and follow a guideline where these owners know what to do to make sure they follow the rules,” Cate said. “I think they want to follow the rules but it’s so ambiguous they don’t know how to do it.”

The proposed changes won’t help hosts who already owe fines, but Cate hopes the city council can make new laws that clarify the rules in the future.

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