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Airbnb users face snitchers charter in San Francisco

Airbnb’s life is about to get considerably harder on the other side of the pond as San Francisco mulls over a proposal that would incentivise snitching on residents renting out space to tourists and visitors.

A ballot measure being proposed by three San Francisco residents would allow citizens to make complaints about neighbours that are users on Airbnb and other related services with the incentive of making back up to 30 per cent of the fines and back taxes that result from successful court actions.

"The short-term rental market is exploding and cries out for some sort of regulation," one of the proposed ballot initiative's backers told the San Francisco Chronicle. "People are stunned to find out that a house on their block is now a hotel."

Related: Airbnb introduces user ID verification programme

The backers added that the proposal is being put in place to “protect the city’s housing stock” as San Francisco is “facing the worst shortage of housing that we’ve had in years.”

The measure would make it the law to locate rentals in an area that has commercial zoning as well as being forced to pay 14 per cent hotel taxes, have proof or insurance and permission from the landlord to offer rentals on the site.

Understandably Airbnb is particularly irked at the proposal and won’t be going down without a fight.

"We want to work with everyone in San Francisco who cares about home-sharing, but this proposal would make it even harder for San Franciscans to make ends meet," Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas told Ars Technica. "More than half of Airbnb hosts in San Francisco use the money they earn to pay their mortgage or rent, and the overwhelming majority share only the home in which they live. We hope to work with everyone on policies that help San Franciscans pay the bills and stay in the city they love."

In order to get the measure on the November ballot the backers must gather almost 10,000 signatures from registered voters by July and it remains uncertain as to whether the final draft will include the rewards for snitching on neighbours.

If the San Francisco proposal is successful then it could well result in other cities enacting similar policies under the premise that urgent protection of housing stock is needed.

Image Credit: Flickr (ah zut)