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Anaheim won't fine short-term rental companies for hosts' violations

Anaheim officials say they won’t enforce a new law that imposes fines on short-term rental sites for listing homes and apartments that violate the city’s rental regulations.

The policy change is the latest chapter in a heated battle between the city and hundreds of short-term rental properties that have sprung up near the Disneyland Resort and the Anaheim Convention Center.

Anaheim adopted a law in July to phase out the rentals over 18 months, a response to complaints by residents about noise, traffic and parking problems. Many of those rentals are listed on popular sites such as Airbnb and Homeaway.

During the 18-month phase-out, the short-term rentals in Anaheim must adhere to tough new restrictions on noise, occupancy numbers, parking, fire safety and access. The new law subjects online rental sites to fines if they list properties that violate such rules.

Both Airbnb and Homeaway sued Anaheim in July, saying it was unfair and unconstitutional to punish the rental sites for violations committed by hosts who use the sites.

In a letter to Airbnb, Anaheim’s acting city attorney, Kristin A. Pelletier, said the city reviewed the law and agreed that it would not try to punish hosting sites such as Airbnb and Homeaway.

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“No criminal or civil penalties will be issued against hosting platforms under the ordinance,” Pelletier said in the letter.

In response to the letter, Airbnb filed a notice with the U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Monday saying it is dropping its lawsuit against Anaheim. A representative for Homeaway could not be reached Monday.

Anaheim will continue to enforce the restrictions on property owners who operate short-term rentals, said city spokesman Mike Lyster.

“The city will continue to identify and take action against unpermitted short-term rentals operating in Anaheim,” Lyster said. “We’ll also continue to work to ensure that permitted short-term rentals are responsibly managed and don’t disrupt our neighborhoods.” 

The Anaheim law, as originally written, said hosting platforms such as Airbnb must remove listings of rental units that don’t have city permits or otherwise violate city law within 10 calendar days or face fines of $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second offense and $2,000 for a third or subsequent offense.The law imposes fines of up to $2,500 on the property owners for violations of such rules.

The 18-month phase-out period began Aug. 11.

hugo.martin@latimes.com

To read more about the travel and tourism industries, follow @hugomartin on Twitter.

Source:   latimes
Source Link:   latimes

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