Can I AirBnB my SF Condo?

Posted On: July 10, 2023
By: Matt Fuller

We are often asked by buyers considering a condo, TIC, or stock cooperative purchase if they will be able to use their new home as a short-term rental.

The answer is almost always: No, no you may not.   

Short Term Rentals in SF Condos, TICs, Stock Cooperatives

The use of your home in a multi-unit building must follow the rules and regulations of your governing documents, which have different names and vary a little bit by property type but all serve the same function: to explain what you can and and can’t do with your home. These documents may (CC&Rs for condos) or may not (TIC agreement or Master Lease) be recorded against the property in the public record as part of the development creation process.

The governing documents will specify any use restrictions that affect the property, such as restrictions on the type or number of pets you can have, minimum sound insulation/ratings or specifications for flooring, placement of signs, and… property rental.

Governing documents generally specify the terms under which an owner can lease their unit, and if so, any terms that must be included. Developments usually allow their owner to lease their unit subject to certain restrictions.

right to lease section of CCR document airbnb condo rules

A section of the CC&Rs from 815 Tennessee, showing a pretty typical right to lease clause in San Francisco.

Homes in multi-unit buildings in San Francisco typically require that the lease be for a minimum of 30 days, effectively outlawing short term rentals in the building. The minimum lease time varies greatly from building to building, we’ve seen a minimum lease requirement of anything from one month to one year, although 30 days is very typical.

Are There Exceptions?

We once listed a condo in a 3-unit building where the CC&Rs were very specific that owners of the homes could use them as short-term rentals, subject to city registration/rules/requirements. But that’s it. There is at least one condo in SF that can be legally short-term rented, so yes it exists. Almost every other set of building governing documents we’ve read/seen/reviewed has had a minimum lease length that prevents short-term rentals.

Why Restrict Short Term Rentals? 

Transient-use rentals bring a high number of guests into a building on a frequent basis. Just like a hotel. Residential developments are not hotels. Hotels are designed and staffed to accomodate a high volume of travelling guests that frequently change. Residential developments are designed for owners that are invested in taking care of the communal asset. Homes generally come with the experience and expectation that neighbors might change on a monthly or yearly basis, but not on an hourly or daily basis.

While we’ve heard security, safety, wear & tear, noise, respect for property and a variety of other reasons mentioned at one time or the other over the years, they all eventually distill down into the same argument: while homes can certainly host guests, homes are also definitely not hotels.

Is This The Same as the SF Short Term Rental Registry? 

No. The city of SF does have its own short-term rental requirements, rules, regulations and fees impacting short-term rentals. The governing documents we are talking about exist at the building/development level and are independent of the city program. The city rules and regulations apply to property types and buildings where there aren’t any rules/regulations about short term rental restrictions or requirements.

Can I Break the Rules?

You do you, but when it comes to short-term rentals in San Francisco we’ve never seen breaking the rules end well for an owner, particularly when it comes to the governing documents about leasing a home.


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