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Airbnb will start cracking down on illegal listings in San Francisco

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Airbnb has been giving the hotel industry a run for its money since it first exploded onto the scene nearly eight years ago, but now, it’s reigning itself in — just a little bit. In what is seen as a largely pacifying move, the San Francisco based company is cracking down on illegal rentals on its home turf, which may comprise up to 10 percent of listings in the city, and up to 17 percent of total revenue. But regardless of how much money they bring to the business, Airbnb says hosts who have transformed homes illegally into hotels (and list multiple properties) will be stopped.

“We want to continually evolve the platform so it serves the best interest of each city we’re in,” Airbnb spokesman Chris Lehane told the SF Chronicle. “This is a step in that direction, to make sure that each host has only one listing in San Francisco.”

The San Francisco housing market, already one of the most expensive in the country, has been made all the more competitive with the prevalence of certain unsanctioned Airbnb listings, and this move by the company is a strategic attempt at preventing future, more costly repercussions.

Airbnb claims to have already removed nearly 100 “questionable” listings in San Francisco at the start of the year, and 118 in total over the course of the last year. This number, however, is expected to rise dramatically with their new crackdowns. And while the company previously refused to hand over site data to officials who wanted to investigate housing law violations, Airbnb is now taking on the role of policing itself.

Airbnb has also released a new report on its presence in San Francisco, all aimed at greater transparency to appease lawmakers. “We intend to continue removing listings that we believe are offered by hosts with multiple entire home listings or are offered by unwelcome commercial operators,” the report notes.

“We know we have more work to do and this effort is just a first step,” it continues. “This will be a learning experience. We aren’t perfect, but we are committed to learning and being a good partner with cities around the world to ensure short-term rentals do not impact the cost and availability of long-term housing.”

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