Airbnb Rules in California | Airbnb Laws, Taxes, and Regulations

Airbnb Rules in California | Airbnb Laws, Taxes, and Regulations

No matter where you are in the world, listing your property on Airbnb will require you to have a basic understanding of the laws and regulations pertaining to short term rentals imposed by local authorities of the area.

This article takes a quick look at basics you should know about listing your property in California, by answering some Frequently Asked Questions about the topic. So let’s dive right in!

What is a “Short Term Rental” or “Vacation Rental”?

Most people often simply refer to short term rentals as “an Airbnb rental”, as the most popular sites for advertising short term rentals include AirBnB and VRBO/HomeAway.

However, “Short-term rental” or “STR” or “[short term lease]” generally means renting a unit, like an apartment or house, for a relatively short period of time.

Whilst it is usually a timeframe of less than 30 or 31 days, in some instances the term can mean to include stays as long as 3 months or even 6 months.

It is interesting to note that the specific time period varies by city or governing bodies like the Homeowners Association.

What are the Regulations Pertaining to Hosting your Primary Residence?

If you host your primary residence, you’ll need to register your listing with the relevant City of California. If your listing is eligible, you’ll receive a pending permit number immediately which you’ll need to add to your listing to comply with the ordinance. Registration costs $89 and must be renewed each year.

What is the Documentation needed for Registration?

  • Photo identification (ID): A valid federal or state-issued photo ID such as a driver's license, state ID card, or passport.
  • Documentation of primary residence: Two of the following documents must be provided, unless the address on the photo ID matches the location of your listing, in which case you’ll only need one of the following. The documents must include your name and the address of your listing.

    • A current valid California voter's registration card or voter registration status
    • A current valid California vehicle registration certificate
    • A recent health insurance bill
    • A recent vehicle insurance bill
    • A copy of a paycheck or pay stub issued in the last six months
    • A copy of a current property tax bill indicating homeowner's exemption
    • A copy of a current rental or lease agreement, including the property manager's or landlord's contact information and signature
  • Landlord approval: If you rent or lease your unit, you’ll need to submit a signed and notarized affidavit that approves your participation in home-sharing for that unit.

When the application is approved, your relevant city will notify you via email that the number is verified and you may continue using the same number. If your submission requires additional review, the city will reach out to let you know.

How do I Renew my Registration?

Your registration is valid for one year from the date that your pending permit number was issued and must be renewed annually. You’ll receive an email reminder from the city 30 days before your current registration expires.

What data will Airbnb share with Authorities?

Airbnb will share the following data on listings that provide home-sharing registration number:

  • Listing ID
  • The Listing URL(s)
  • Registration Number
  • The house number of the address only, not the full street address (e.g., only the 100 of 100 Main St.)
  • The apartment/suite/unit number of the address
  • The total number of nights the rental unit has already been rented as a Short-Term Rental through Airbnb in the calendar year
  • The total number of nights the rental unit has been booked for Short-Term Rental stays through Airbnb for the remainder of the calendar year;

Airbnb will share the following data on listings that claim an exemption:

  • Listing ID
  • The Listing URL(s)
  • Exemption code as a hotel/motel, bed & breakfast, or transient occupancy residential structure
  • The Unique Host ID
  • The Host Email Address
  • The Listing’s Street Address (full)
  • No booking data

Airbnb will share the following data on listings that exclusively host long-term stays (30+ nights or more):

  • Listing ID
  • The Listing URL(s)
  • Exemption code identifying the listing as one that exclusively hosts long-term stays

Airbnb will not share any data related to earnings, taxes, specific reservation details, or guests.

Can I Sublet an Apartment or House on AirBnB?

Probably not, but check your lease. In addition to the above laws and rules, if you are renting a unit, your lease most likely has a restriction on any and all “subletting.”

Some landlords say you can sublet if you get approval from your landlord. However, in the event your lease says nothing about subletting or “assignment” of the unit, and if it wouldn’t violate any of the above laws, then you probably do have the legal right to AirBnB it.

Is it Illegal to put a Camera Inside an AirBnB?

In California, it is generally illegal to record guests inside an AirBnB without their consent. But recording anything on the exterior of a house is generally not prohibited. You could find answers to more privacy questions on the Guide to Privacy Rights.

Airbnb taxes and legality California

How does Occupancy Tax Collection and Remittance by Airbnb work in California?

Airbnb automatically collects and pays occupancy taxes on behalf of hosts whenever a guest pays for a booking in specific jurisdictions. Hosts may need to manually collect occupancy taxes in other jurisdictions and in certain listed jurisdictions where Airbnb does not collect all applicable occupancy taxes.

Here’s how Occupancy Tax Collection and Remittance by Airbnb work in the different major cities and counties of California.

San Diego

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in San Diego, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • San Diego Transient Occupancy Tax: 10.5% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit SanDiego.gov.

San Francisco

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in San Francisco, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • San Francisco Transient Occupancy Tax: 14% of the listing price including any cleaning fee and guest fee for reservations 29 nights and shorter. 14% is the tax rate imposed by the City and County of San Francisco (the tax jurisdictions are one and the same). For detailed information, please visit SFtreasurer.org.

Long Beach

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Long Beach, CA will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Long Beach Transient Occupancy Tax: 13% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Long Beach Finance Department website.

Los Angeles

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in Los Angeles, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 14% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Los Angeles, Office of Finance website.

Per Night Administrative Fee: $3.10 per night, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, visit the City of Los Angeles Home-Sharing website.

San Jose

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in San Jose, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • San Jose Transient Occupancy Tax: 10% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit SanJoseCa.gov.

Santa Clara

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Santa Clara, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Santa Clara Transient Occupancy Tax: 9.5% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit SantaClara.gov.

Santa Monica

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in Santa Monica, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Santa Monica Transient Occupancy Tax: 14% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit Santa Monica's website.
  • Nightly Fee: $2 per night fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter in Santa Monica pursuant to settlement with the City of Santa Monica.

Seaside

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Seaside, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

South San Francisco

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of South San Francisco, CA will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

Sunnyvale

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Sunnyvale, CA will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

Winters

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Winters, CA will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 12% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Winters Finance Department website.
  • Tourism Business Improvement District Assessment: 2% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Winters Finance Department website.

Yucca Valley

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Yucca Valley, California will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 7% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Yucca Valley Finance Department website.

Pinole

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Pinole, California will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 10% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Pinole website.

Pittsburg

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in Pittsburg, CA will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 10% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the Pittsburg Transient Occupancy Tax website.

Oakland

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in Oakland, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Oakland Transient Occupancy Tax: 14% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit Oakland's FAQ page.

Oceanside

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Oceanside, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 10% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the Oceanside Transient Occupancy Tax website.
  • Tourism Marketing District Assessment: 1.5-2.5% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. Tax rate is dependent on listing type. For detailed information, please visit the Oceanside Transient Occupancy Tax website.

Nevada City

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Nevada City, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 10% of the listing price including any cleaning fees for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the Nevada City Finance and Administration website.

Malibu

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in Malibu, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Malibu Transient Occupancy Tax: 15% of the listing price including any cleaning fee for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit MalibuCity.org.

Long Beach

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Long Beach, CA will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Long Beach Transient Occupancy Tax: 13% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Long Beach Finance Department website.

Los Angeles

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in Los Angeles, CA will pay the following taxes as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 14% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Los Angeles, Office of Finance website.
  • Per Night Administrative Fee: $3.10 per night, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, visit the City of Los Angeles Home-Sharing website.

Davis

Guests who book Airbnb listings that are located in the City of Davis, California will pay the following tax as part of their reservation:

  • Transient Occupancy Tax: 12% of the listing price including any cleaning fees, for reservations 30 nights and shorter. For detailed information, please visit the City of Davis Finance Department website.

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