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Malibu to crack down on short-term rentals via Airbnb, other websites

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MALIBU, Calif. - Malibu is cracking down on short-term rentals marketed on Airbnb, Craigslist and other sites, to make sure the city is getting what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in uncollected hotel taxes.

The City Council voted this month to issue subpoenas to more than 60 websites that advertise short-term leases, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday (http://lat.ms/Sf8cN6).

Malibu wants to learn how many short-term rentals are being offered. Such rentals are allowed if property owners register with the seaside city and pay the same 12 per cent transient occupancy tax that hotels are required to remit.

About 50 properties are registered, but officials say they recently found more than 400 ads for Malibu rentals online.

The registered private properties pay taxes to the city totalling about $225,000 annually, the city said. Malibu plans to use the subpoenas to help it learn the addresses of properties being rented so it can go after unpaid taxes.

Officials emphasized that the city is not yet proposing to stop the practice of short-term rentals but rather to cut down on the "party house" atmosphere that has disrupted some neighbourhoods, the Times said.

"Some neighbourhoods ... have turned into hotel zones," said Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal, who has registered her house with the city and occasionally rents it out.

In San Francisco, a supervisor has introduced legislation that would create a system similar to Malibu's in which property owners would be required to register homes and to pay that city's 14 per cent transient occupancy tax. San Francisco property owners would not be allowed to convert rental units into year-round, short-term rentals.

Airbnb has reached agreements with San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, to collect hotel-type taxes from hosts and remit them to the cities, starting this summer.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com

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