Crackdown on Airbnb and other short-term rentals likely coming to unincorporated L.A. County

Airbnb's logo is displayed during a news conference in Tokyo on June 14, 2018
L.A. officials say Airbnb rentals have proliferated across the county’s unincorporated areas.
(Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP/Getty Images)

Airbnbs and other short-term rentals in unincorporated areas will be restricted to hosts who are renting out their primary residence, under a proposal that gained preliminary approval from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Officials say the rentals have proliferated across the county’s unincorporated areas, sometimes leaving a trail of raucous parties and trash-strewn streets.

The proposed ordinance, five years in the making, would prohibit hosts from listing second homes, guesthouses, accessory dwelling units or investment properties in unincorporated L.A. County.


The supervisors, who unanimously passed the ordinance on Tuesday, must vote on it one more time, likely early next month, before it becomes law.

Under the proposed ordinance, hosts in unincorporated areas — home to roughly 1 million residents — would have to register with the county and pay an annual fee of $914. A property could be rented for no more than 30 consecutive days at a time. And so-called “corporate hosts,” who rent out multiple properties, would have to pull their listings.

“It takes them right out of the game,” said Randy Renick, head of Better Neighbors LA, which pushes for regulations on short-term rentals.

Better Neighbors LA says the ordinance would return desperately needed housing to the market. The group has estimated that there are more than 2,600 houses available for short-term rental in unincorporated county areas.

The ordinance was supported by several tenant advocacy groups and public officials, who argued that short-term rentals were displacing long-term residents and replacing them with unruly tourists. Some residents have told news outlets that their street has been turned into a “de facto hotel.”

“All around the County, residents must suddenly deal with commercial enterprises in the middle of their neighborhoods, bringing in rowdy parties, parking difficulties, high volumes of trash, loud noise, and guests that have no stake in safeguarding the community,” a coalition of city officials wrote in a joint letter.


Some hosts — as well as the rental platforms they use — have opposed the proposed ordinance, arguing that it is an “attack” on mom-and-pop landlords, disincentivizes tourists from visiting and cuts off a much-needed income stream.

At a county board meeting last month, Airbnb host Ellen Snortland said she felt she was being unfairly lumped with corporate landlords. She said she is in her 70s and uses Airbnb to stave off foreclosure.

“Do you think people like us Airbnb hosts do it to get rich?” she said. “We do it for survival.”

Vrbo, an online platform for vacation rentals, said it believes the county’s regulations would harm both tourists and the families that want to host them.

The proposal “severely limits the options available to traveling families visiting the area and economic opportunity for residents who own, manage, and service these accommodations,” a spokesperson for the Expedia Group, which oversees Vrbo, wrote in a statement.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to impose new rules on renting out rooms and homes for short stays, regulating a phenomenon popularized by the rise of online platforms such as Airbnb.

Dec. 11, 2018

The county’s crackdown comes more than five years after the city of Los Angeles passed its own short term rental restrictions, which barred Angelenos from renting out second homes on platforms such as Airbnb. The county’s version would bring unincorporated areas roughly in line with the city.


Maria Patiño Gutierrez, director of policy with the tenant rights group Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, said residents will sometimes report illegal vacation rentals in their neighborhoods, only to discover that the homes are actually in unincorporated L.A. County and, therefore, completely legal.

“The housing crisis is in all of L.A. County,” she said.

Some supporters of the ordinance hope there will be one significant difference from L.A. city: enforcement with teeth.

Researchers have found that hosts in L.A. regularly flout the city’s rules, with little consequence. A study from 2022 found that nearly half the short-term rentals in the city were illegal.

Renick with Better Neighbors LA said he believes the county will do a better job of enforcement, though he said details on how that will be done are “thin.”

“We’re confident, given what the various supervisors have told us, that the county’s going to take enforcement seriously,” he said.

Nichole Alcaraz, operations chief with the county’s treasurer and tax collector, which spearheaded the ordinance, said they’re still hammering out the penalties for hosts that don’t comply. She said there will be more details in the coming month.


“We do know there’s going to be an enforcement arm. We do have some general ideas about how that’s going to work,” she said. “But the amount [of the penalty] may change.”

The ordinance would go into effect six months after the final vote and would include all property owners in unincorporated L.A. County with the exception of those along the coast. Residents in unincorporated coastal areas — including Marina del Rey, Catalina Island and the Santa Monica Mountains — will need to wait for the California Coastal Commission to consider the ordinance.