This post was updated May 14 at 12:50 p.m.
Users of short-term rental services, such as Airbnb, may find Westwood rental options drastically reduced in the coming months.
The Los Angeles City Council unanimously backed a law May 2 that would limit overnight rental hosts to renting out space in their primary residence. Many residents in Los Angeles rent out secondary homes to visitors, especially in areas that attract high volumes of tourists, such as Santa Monica and Venice.
According to the draft of the Home Sharing Ordinance, a home or apartment is considered a primary residence if it is lived in for at least six months out of the year. A secondary residence is a home occupied for only a portion of the year, such as a vacation home.
The law would also require rental hosts register with the city and rent out residences for a maximum of 120 days per year. However, primary residence hosts can exceed that cap through an administrative review process. Rental hosts that refuse to comply with the regulations could face fines of up to $2,000.
Paul Koretz, city council member for District 5, which includes Westwood and UCLA, said the law is designed to significantly reduce the number of properties that can be rented through night-to-night rental services and offer new protections to residents in rent-controlled apartments.
“The Home Sharing Ordinance limits short-term rentals to primary residences and protects rent-controlled apartment buildings from being turned into illegal hotels, both of which are much-needed improvements,” Koretz said in a statement.
Julien Gattaciecca, an Airbnb host in Westwood and UCLA alumnus, said he supports the proposed regulations because he thinks the overnight rental services reduce the number of homes available to people who would otherwise rent them on a long-term basis, especially in high-property-value areas, such as Westwood and Venice.
“I think Airbnb is an amazing idea, but (it) needs real regulations because when you live in (areas like) Venice, you realize that a lot of the apartments are taken by people who just want to rent via Airbnb because they make significant amounts of money,” Gattaciecca said.
Gattaciecca added he thinks those who are using their homes solely for short-term or overnight rentals are unfairly exploiting an unofficial and unregulated business practice.
“There is a proliferation of Airbnb fake business entrepreneurs that are making the housing crisis worse,” Gattaciecca said. “People can make so much money out of (rental services because) they’re just renting places all around LA where tourists want to be, and hacking up the prices.”
Ryan Shimizu, an Airbnb host in Westwood, said he has been managing 15 properties in the Westwood area since August and is concerned about how the new regulations will affect his business.
“This is my main business, and if they pass (the ordinance), I have to either discontinue this Airbnb business or convert (my properties) into long-term rentals,” Shimizu said.
Long-term home rentals are unfurnished properties that are leased out for longer than 30 days. Long-term rentals provide a steady source of income but cannot adjust rates to meet demand spikes as effectively as short-term rentals can.
While the City Planning Commission has yet to vote on the ordinance, Koretz said he believes the new rental regulations will be enough to help mitigate the housing crisis in Los Angeles.
“It took us three years to get something to the council to get a handle on this issue,” Koretz said. “It was time to take action and we did.”