WEST HOLLYWOOD—The West Hollywood Planning Commission unanimously motioned to add an amendment to the city’s current short-term vacation rental regulations at a regular meeting on May 18.
The amendment addresses an illegal loophole that some short-term rental hosts have used, called the “bait and switch” method. This entails a host creating a listing for a short-term vacation rental, on Airbnb for example, in an area outside of West Hollywood city limits to avoid being flagged and penalized by law enforcement. Once the guest accepts the booking, the host sends them the correct address, which is located in West Hollywood.
This can cause confusion with the guest because the location for the original listing is not correct or in use by the host. There have been incidents reported of guests showing up to a location that is not their actual destination, leaving the residents of the home confused or startled.
According to NBC4, the decision comes as West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne says there has been an increase in people trying to list rent-stabilized apartments on the short-term rental market. There is a current ordinance that bans un-hosted short-term rentals.
About 80 percent of West Hollywood’s 36,000 residents are renters, and some organizations and community members are concerned about the impact short-term vacation rentals have on available affordable housing. Better Neighbors of Los Angeles describe themselves as “a coalition of Southern California hosts, tenants, housing activists, hotel workers, and community members.” They operate a hotline that people can use to report illegal short-term rentals in their area. The coalition received several complaints about the “bait and switch” issue as early as last summer.
In addition to the new amendment, the Planning Commission recommended that the West Hollywood City Council re-examine the fee structure established with short-term rental platforms. City Council will discuss both matters at a meeting set for June 26, 2023.
By Paige Strickland