Get started

This page will help you understand the steps to opening a Short Term Residential Rental in San Francisco. It is a resource from the Office of Small Business and the Planning Department's Office of Short Term Rental.

Check for eligibility

Check for eligibility
  • Overview: Based on Charter 41 of the City’s Administrative Code, to host a short-term rental you must meet all the following conditions:
    • Host conditions
      • Permanent resident of San Francisco
      • Owner or tenant of the unit you plan to rent
      • Lived in your dwelling at least 60 days before applying
      • Plan to live in the unit for at least 275 nights/year
    • Dwelling conditions
      • Must be compliant with all City codes
      • Cannot be located in The Presidio, Fort Mason, or Treasure Island
      • Cannot be a Single-Room-Occupancy (SRO) or dormitory
      • Cannot be a Below-Market-Rate (BMR) or Public Housing unit
      • Must be permitted and designed for residential use. Commercial and industrial spaces not permitted.
      • Cannot be subject to an Ellis Act eviction after November ,2014
      • Cannot have sleeping quarters in outdoor areas, including treehouses and vehicles
  • You can continue the steps to be a host if you meet all the conditions above.
     

Understand the rules

Understand the rules
  • Overview: Before applying to be a Short-Term Rental Host, please ensure you understand and can comply with all the Short-Term Rental rules and regulations, including:
    • Hosted rental: When you are home overnight at the same time as your guests, there is no limit on the number of Hosted rentals per year. 
    • Un-hosted rental: When you are not home overnight at the same time as your guests, un-hosted rentals are generally limited to 90 nights per calendar year. 
    • If you own/rent a multi-unit building, you may only register the unit in which you reside and may only conduct short-term rentals in the unit in which you reside.
    • You must have property liability insurance in the amount of no less than $500,000, or provide proof that property liability coverage in an equal or higher amount is being provided by any and all hosting platforms through which you will rent your unit. Proof of liability insurance is not required if hosting activity is only handled by a platform (website) that already extends similar liability coverage. You are encouraged to discuss property and liability insurance coverage with your insurer.
    • If you are a tenant, you may not make more than your monthly rent from your short-term rental fees charged to guests.
      • Notes:
        • Only rental units subject to the rent control provisions in Administrative Code Section 37.3 are limited in their short-term rental rates.
        • The owner of your unit will receive a letter from the Office of Short-Term Rentals with notification of your intent to be a host. We encourage you to review your lease and receive permission from your property owner prior to applying.
  • Information for residents within properties subject to a Homeowner’s (or Condominium) Association, or tenancy-in-common (TIC) ownership: The certification of your residential unit with the Office of Short-Term Rentals does not override any lease agreements, homeowner’s association bylaws, Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs), or any other agreement, law, or regulations that prohibit subletting or use of your unit as a Short-Term Residential Rental. Please note that lease agreements, homeowners’ association bylaws, and CC&Rs are private agreements that are not enforced by the City and County of San Francisco.
  • Contact the Office of Short-Term Rentals for more information and assistance

Register your business

Register your business
  • Overview: Earning income from a short-term residential rental, regardless of the amount, is considered a business. Therefore, you are required to obtain a Business Registration Number, also known as a Business Account Number, or BAN.
  • Register your hosting business with the Treasurer & Tax Collector's Office before registering with the Office of Short Term Rentals.
  • Update your Business Registration. If you already have another type of business registered in San Francisco, you can update your account to add your hosting business. Select industry type “Accommodations”.
  • Note: Hosting short-term rentals without registration numbers from both the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and the Office of Short-Term Residential Rentals can result in significant fines and penalties.
     

Apply with the Office of Short-Term Rental

Apply with the Office of Short-Term Rental

Overview: If you’ve made it this far, you’ve completed the following steps:

  1. Determined you’re eligible to be a host
  2. Understand the Rules & Regulation
  3. Received your Business Account Number (BAN) from the Treasurer & Tax Collector's Office

You are now ready to apply. Please be aware there is a non-refundable application fee. If approved, your application is good for two years. If denied, your application fee is not reimbursable.

Required Items

  1. Office of Short-Term Rentals Application Form
  2. Business Registration Certificate
    • Include your Business Registration Certificate that was issued by the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. A receipt of a pending application is sufficient to begin the certification process.
  3. Proof of Property-Liability Insurance
    • If hosting on a platform that does not provide insurance, include proof of property-liability insurance in the amount of no less than $500,000. Certain host platforms (e.g. AirBnB, VRBO) provide this insurance. If you are hosting on a platform that does provide this insurance, providing proof of insurance is not required. 
  4. Application Fee
    • Note that the application fee is non-refundable, even if the application is denied.
  5. Proof of Residency
    • Include two of the following listed documents to confirm your primary residence is the same as your hosted unit. Copies and printouts will not be accepted.
      • California Drivers License
      • SF City ID Card (sfgov.org/countyclerk/sf-city-id-card-how-get-card)
      • Vehicle Registration Card from the California DMV with the address of the unit you wish to certify.
      • Proof of a Homeowner’s Tax Exemption: This is accepted for property that is either a single-family dwelling or condominium.
      • Proof of car insurance with the address of the unit you wish to certify.
      • Original utility bill, issued from either: SFPUC (water), Recology (trash), or PG&E (electric/gas), including the payment stub showing the address of the unit you wish to certify. You may only use utility bills as one form of residency confirmation. Cable television, cell phone, or internet provider bills do not qualify.
      • Voter Registration Card or Certificate with the address of the unit you wish to certify. You may obtain a copy through the San Francisco Department of Elections.
      • Other Options: In some instances certain original documents mailed to your current address by State or Federal agencies, such as the franchise tax board, or licensing boards (e.g. medical, real estate, or cosmetology) may also be accepted as one proof of residency. This can include licensing renewals or tax bills. You may redact sensitive information from such documents.

Once the Office of Short-Term Rentals receives your application and fee, they will determine if you are eligible to host rentals. If you are approved, they will issue you a short-term rental certificate via email. Your certificate will be valid for two years.

If you are not approved, they will send you a denial notice by email informing you of the reasons for denial.

Note: If you are a tenant in a rent-controlled unit, your monthly revenue from hosting cannot exceed your monthly rent payment.

Stay compliant

Stay compliant
  1. Report your Short-Term Rental stays quarterly. Fill out the Quarterly Report provided by the Office of Short-Term Rentals. You will need to report all short-term stays which have occurred during the three-month reporting period. This report can be accessed and submitted online with the Office of Short-Term Rentals (https://sfplanning.org/str/maintain-your-certified-host-status). Please note that only hosts with approved certificates are required to submit Quarterly Reports. While your application is pending review, you do not need to submit a Quarterly Report. The Office of Short-Term Rentals will send an email to the email address you provide on your application as a reminder of the Quarterly Reporting requirement and deadline.
  2. Renew your Business Certificate annually. Renew your business registration certificate every year with the Treasurer & Tax Collector's Office. Renewals are due every May 31st and can be submitted online (https://sftreasurer.org/business/renew-business-registration).
  3. Pay your Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT). Anyone in San Francisco who receives rent for a stay of fewer than 30 days must collect a 14% tax on the amount that they earn from their guests. This is called the “Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT)”.
  4. File and pay your Business Personal Property Tax.  Hosts are required to report an inventory of their Business Personal Property and potentially pay a tax on that property annually. Host are required submit Form 571-STR with the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder's Office. Visit the Assessor-Recorder's website to learn more: https://www.sfassessor.org/property-information/business-owners/571-l-b…
  5. Renew your Certificate with the Office of Short-Term Rentals every two years.  Once certified, you must continue to comply with the law. Visit the Office of Short-Term Rentals website (https://sfplanning.org/office-short-term-rentals) to read the ongoing requirements for all short-term rental hosts.