Airbnb Sues Santa Monica Over Short-Term Rental Ban, Claims City Violated Federal Laws

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Airbnb filed a lawsuit Friday alleging a ban passed by Santa Monica officials in 2015 violates the 1st and 4th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. (Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Airbnb sued a third California city Friday, arguing that the beach town of Santa Monica violated federal laws protecting privacy and online speech.

In its 22-page suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the company alleges that an ordinance Santa Monica officials passed in May 2015 violates the 1stand 4th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution with a series of onerous requirements for property owners who offer short-term rentals.

The ordinance mandates the property owners, or “hosts,” meet requirements such as posting their business licenses on their online listings and adhering to city fire and building codes. The law also subjects data held by the rental websites to review. Property owners and rental websites such as Airbnb and Homeaway could face civil and criminal penalties for violating the law.

“Santa Monica’s clumsily written law punishes hosts who depend on home sharing to make ends meet and travelers looking for low-cost accommodations near the beach,” said Alison Schumer, a spokeswoman for Airbnb. “The city is unwilling to make necessary improvements to its draconian law, so while this isn’t a step we wanted to take, it’s the best way to protect our community of hosts and guests.”

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