A couple from San Francisco agreed to pay $ 2.25 million to the city for illegally renting 14 apartments as Airbnb units.
City attorney Dennis Herrera announced the settlement on Monday and called the fine an important deterrent for others who want to benefit illegally from the housing crisis in the city.
Darren and Valerie Lee agreed to pay the money as penalties and investigation costs, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
& # 39; The heavy financial penalty is an important deterrent & # 39 ;, said city attorney Dennis Herrera in a statement.
It sends a clear message to those who want to benefit illegally from the San Francisco housing crisis: do not try it. We will catch you. & # 39;
Darren and Valerie Lee of San Francisco agreed to pay $ 2.25 million to the city for illegally renting 14 apartments as Airbnb units
The couple were forced to put their property as collateral to ensure that they pay the fine
The Lees owns or manages 17 properties in San Francisco with a total of 45 apartments
The couple were forced to put their property as collateral to ensure that they pay the fine.
An attorney for the Droesem, John C. Brown, did not respond immediately to a call on Monday.
The Lees were also blocked for at least seven years of offering short-term rentals in one of the 17 San Francisco buildings that they own or manage.
Faced with an acute shortage of affordable housing, San Francisco struggled with renting tourists into private homes and apartments since Airbnb was launched in the city.
San Francisco now has strict laws that require people to rent their homes through online sites such as Airbnb and Homeaway / VRBO to stay in the unit for at least 275 nights a year and not rent them for longer than 90 days during that time.
The city first continued the Droesem in 2014 for the expulsion of tenants, including a disabled person, from one of their properties to rent the spaces on Airbnb.
The Lees arranged that business for $ 276,000 and agreed to a ban on further holiday rentals in their 17 homes.
In total, the 17 houses accommodate 45 units.
Herrera's office said the Read ignored the order.
In the first 11 months after the order came into effect, De Wier collected $ 900,000 in short-term rentals.
Faced with an acute shortage of affordable housing, San Francisco struggled with renting tourists into private homes and apartments since Airbnb was launched in the city. The image above shows a photo of one of the properties of the & # 39; Read & # 39; that was offered for rent on Airbnb
The city first followed the Droesem in 2014 to expel tenants, including a disabled person, from one of their properties to rent the spaces on Airbnb
When city inspectors came to look at the apartments, the Droesem & # 39; did far-reaching, cunning & # 39; steps to pretend that the apartments were leased to long-term tenants, including drawing up false leases and pretending that friends, family and employees were their tenants.
To try to deceive inspectors, they used everyday objects to make them think that the apartments were rented out to tenants, but all units had exactly the same items.
The city office said: & # 39; They had the same Costco food spread, the same layout of dirty breakfast dishes in each sink, the same personal products in each bathroom, the same damp towels artfully draped over the doors as if someone had recently showered, the same collection of shoes and clothes in cupboards, and the same house plants in each apartment. & # 39;
The Lees managed to milk their belongings for every cent on Airbnb.
Some of their apartments are rented for a maximum of $ 595 per night, meaning that according to the city, guests must stay no less than three nights.
Airbnb has released a statement about the matter stating that it does not use the tactics used by the Lees for their many properties.
& # 39; These are not the type of hosts that we want to have on our platform and we are happy that the city has the tools needed to enforce the rules & # 39 ;, according to the company.