Creating a Airbnb friendly InLaw space in Daly City, San Mateo County and San Francisco Bay Area

Level 1

Hello Everyone!


My wife and I currently live in a 2 story single family home in Daly City area in the County of San Mateo. There is an entrance from the back of our home through our backyard and from the backyard, there is an entrance into the 1st level of our house which currently is a non-permitted 2 room bonus space behind a garage area that came with the home when it was purchased.


We have 2 questions: 


1. The 2 non-permitted rooms on the 1st level are quite nice. Ceilings are high enough, it's spacious, cozy and has access to a nice yard with a grill/outdoor cooking space and patio.  Would you recommend listing those 2 as is? What are the consequences of listing and renting a non-permitted space for short term rentals in this area? A small fine? or permanent removal of all future listings would be the 2 extreme spectrums. I would love all of your feedback.


2. If we were to hire an architect to get the space permitted, we would invest ~$75k to further develop the space to expand the current square footage from ~400 sq feet to a ~700 sq feet 2 bed 1 bath with a nice living space (all private) and a private entrance from the backyard.


The question here is, since we would be building everything out nearly from scratch, what are some features you would build out in the 1st level to be "future proof"?  


2a. An example I could think of is a design the accommodates for the prohibition of using ADUs in the county of San Mateo (which Daly City is a part of) - 

  • (aka – In-law unit, Granny flat, 2nd Dwelling unit, etc.) for Short Term Rental use.

You can see the full description here: **


Although this is clearly stated on the County website, there are Inlaw looking units that are currently listed on Airbnb in the surrounding areas. My guess is Daly City is fine with it and the County is not enforcing it often or the penalties are not severe currently but that may change in the future. In a perfect world, what modifications would you place in so that it would be "future proof?


The design we are considering is extending a staircase that already exists from 2nd level to the first level so that in essence, the 1st level is **NOT an ADU, but rather, a part of the main home and an extension of the 2nd level. In theory, that would allow us to rent the 2 rooms downstairs for more than 180 days / year and it would be a legal short term rental according to the county of San Mateo and Daly City.


2b. 2nd example would be to not build a kitchen. Not entirely sure about Daly City or County of San Mateo, but a 2nd kitchen in San Francisco would automatically be deemed as a additional unit and therefore, not permitted for short term rentals because the City of San Francisco wants to keep long term rentals with kitchens affordable for occupants in San Francisco. 


Concluding question for #2: What other considerations, modifications and designs would you put in to ensure this Airbnb rental is future proof? Are we overthinking this and should we just build a nice permitted 700 sq ft ADU and just list it on Airbnb? 

2 Replies

Re: Creating a Airbnb friendly InLaw space in Daly City, San Mateo County and San Francisco Bay Area

Swannanoa, NC
Level 10

My quick take on this:  Get the space permitted and add the staircase as that appears to give you more use options.  Be sure to pay attention to egress requirements.  I am horrified by the large number of basement rentals I see on Air and other OTAs with no fire exits.  Do not add a full kitchen - check your zoning.  You may be able to install a "bar kitchen" with a sink, dishwasher, convection microwave and a convection cooktop.  We had a neighbor do a basement conversion in our single home zoned area and rent it out -- as long as he did not have a full stove or built in ovens, he was meeting code restrictions.  Good luck with your venture!

Re: Creating a Airbnb friendly InLaw space in Daly City, San Mateo County and San Francisco Bay Area

Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

It would be foolhardy to actively promote a listing for commercial use which you know doesn't have relevant planning permission and may not be built to safe standards @Kevin2016 


Ask your local government what the penalties would be. 


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