Illegal Vacation Rental Business Operator in Santa Monica Convicted
Successful prosecution of illegal vacation rental operator resulting in return of residential housing to permanent residential use
June 18, 2018
SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office successfully concluded the prosecution of Shabi Jafri, a local real estate agent and operator of an illegal vacation rental business which unlawfully took approximately nine residential housing units off of the rental housing market. Jafri had been charged with operating his illegal vacation rental business without City Permits and refusing to comply with City Administrative Citations.
“The City of Santa Monica has consistently dedicated policies to producing, protecting and preserving housing in our community,” said Chief Deputy City Attorney Yibin Shen. “This conviction is both a just outcome and further affirms these important legislative goals.”
When the case first began in early 2017, Code Enforcement Officers first attempted to gain compliance through issuance of multiple Administrative Citations. However, these efforts were unavailing. Instead of coming into compliance, Jafri continued to operate his illegal vacation rentals within various residential dwelling units within the City, and he employed various tactics to deceive City investigators.
The City Code Enforcement Officers were able to successfully penetrate the subterfuge and confirmed multiple vacation rental violations by Jafri. The case was referred to the City Attorney’s Office for prosecution in early 2018.
On June 13, 2018, City Prosecutor Melanie Skehar took the “no contest” plea of Shabi Jafri to five misdemeanor counts of operating an unlawful business within the City. Under a plea agreement with the City Attorney’s Office, the owner was placed on formal diversion with 24 months of probation and ordered to:
- Perform 140 hours of court approved community service.
- Pay restitution to the City of Santa Monica in the amount of $3,600.25 in investigation costs.
- Comply with all laws, including the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance’s prohibition against hosting, facilitating, aiding, or advertising a vacation rental in the City.
“This is a positive and fair result,” said Code Enforcement Manager Sharon Guidry. “When the Council adopted Santa Monica Municipal Code Chapter 6.20, which reaffirmed the City’s longstanding prohibition against vacation rentals in Santa Monica, it clearly reiterated its deep interest in and concerns about protecting Santa Monica’s diverse permanent rental housing stock. My team of dedicated Code Enforcement Officers are committed to enforcing this important legislation and ensuring that Santa Monica remains a place that people from all income levels and backgrounds can proudly call home.”
Home-Sharing in Santa Monica
After maintaining a multi-decade prohibition against short-term rentals in residential districts, in 2015, the City eased this prohibition by authorizing a form of short-term rentals known as Home-Sharing, wherein a resident is free to host visitors for compensation for a period of less than 31 days, as long as the resident and visitor are both present in the home. Un-hosted short-term rentals of residential housing, known as Vacation Rentals, remain unlawful in Santa Monica. This landmark legislation struck an important balance by enabling current and prospective residents to supplement income through home-sharing to meet increased rents and housing prices, while ensuring that Santa Monica’s housing units, and particularly affordable units, would not be surreptitiously or openly converted into de facto hotels.
For more information on the City’s Home-Sharing Ordinance or to apply for a Home-Sharing License, visit www.smgov.net/homeshare.
To report an illegal vacation rental business, contact Code Enforcement at (310) 458-4984.