If you’ve been thinking that your side-hustle running an unlicensed apartment rental ring on Airbnb would fly under the radar of The Man, it might be time to think again. Santa Monica has just booked their first criminal conviction of an Airbnb host who refused to play by the city’s rules. Put into place last year, Santa Monica’s restrictions on Airbnb are considered among the most stringent of any city, according to KTLA.
Chief among the rules is that Airbnb rentals of entire homes for less than 30 days per stay are banned, across the board. Home-sharing—where the unit’s primary resident still stays in the home and only an extra space within the unit is rented on the site—is the only thing allowed for shorter stays.
Scott Shatford was caught violating that law, running five rental properties for short-term visitors. He received multiple citations, but refused to comply. On top of that, he was also hit with eight separate misdemeanor counts of operating a business without a license. Shatford ended up pleading no contest to the charges and struck a deal. He’ll be paying $3,500 in fines, be placed on probation for two years and will stop renting illegal Airbnbs (for real this time, Scott).
This comes hot on the heels of a Los Angeles city attorney filing criminal charges against a landlord who illegally evicted the tenants of a rent-controlled apartment building to flip it into a pseudo-hotel.
We have to wonder if this will be a topic at the upcoming Airbnb Open conference coming to LA in November. All the star-power speakers may not distract from the elephant in the room amongst hosts wondering if what they’re doing may be about to run them afoul of the law.