Illegal Vacation Rental Operator Handed Increased Sentence After Continuation of Illegal Activity

In Santa Monica, short term vacation rentals on platforms like Airbnb are illegal if the host is not present. Photos: Courtesy.

Westside real estate agent Shabi Jafri ordered to pay increased fine, perform more community service and labor. 

By Staff Writer 

The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office successfully has obtained an increased sentence for Shabi Jafri, a Westside real estate agent who was convicted in June 2018 of running an illegal vacation rental business and subsequently violated his diversion terms, leading to an enhanced sentence.

Santa Monica Code Enforcement Officers monitor each probationer to assure compliance with court conditions, and upon learning of violations by Jafri, officers promptly sought an increased sentence.

“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. “While City prosecutors use innovative tools, such as diversion and probation programs, to achieve justice with opportunity for rehabilitation; we and our law enforcement partners actively monitor compliance, and promptly take action to ensure rigorous compliance with diversion/probation terms in order to fully effectuate the legislative objectives that we are charged to enforce.”

In Santa Monica, residents can host visitors for compensation for a period of fewer 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, is illegal in Santa Monica.

In June 2018, Jafri was convicted of illegally taking nine residential housing units off of the rental housing market and operating them as illegal vacation rentals, on top of charges based on his refusal to comply with City Administrative Citations. Upon Jafri’s conviction, he was placed on formal diversion, which gave him an chance to earn a possible future dismissal of the case by showing contrition and compliance.

Santa Monica Code Enforcement Officers, however, through their probation and diversion monitoring program, discovered that Jafri was continuing to engage in the same unlawful activities that landed him a conviction.

On December 12, 2018, City Prosecutor Michael Cobden sought and obtained an enhanced sentence against Jafri in Los Angeles Superior Court. Under this increased sentence, Judge TK Herman ordered Mr. Jafri to:

1) Perform 112 hours of community labor.
2) Perform 140 hours of community service.
3) Pay restitution to the City of Santa Monica in the amount of $3,915 in investigation costs.
4) 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.

“We agree with and appreciate the Court’s sentencing order” 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, through the entire life-cycle of every case. We proactively monitor diversion and probation terms to ensure scrupulous compliance with the City’s laws and to guarantee that Santa Monica remains a place that people from all income levels and backgrounds can proudly call home.”

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.