We've seen this movie before. Should Airbnb be responsible for the legality of listings on its site? Will municipalities be able to curb Airbnb as a way to counter skyrocketing rents? A happy ending isn't a likely scenario.
Airbnb Inc. said rules for short-term tourist rentals in Paris are excessively bureaucratic and might breach European Union standards, as the city’s authorities seek a 12.5 million-euro ($14 million) fine against the online home-stay company for posting illegal advertisements.
The terms set by city hall “are inefficient, disproportionate and against European regulations,” a spokeswoman for Airbnb said in an email on Sunday, after Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said in an interview with weekly Journal du Dimanche that the French capital’s authorities sued Airbnb for posting 1,000 illegal rental listings.
Under French law, home owners in Paris can rent their places on short-term rental platforms for as many as 120 days in a year. The owners must also register the business with their local municipality and ads have to bear the registration number.
Inspections conducted by the Paris municipality found that at least 1,000 ads posted on Airbnb’s site didn’t abide by the rules, Hidalgo said. “We can’t accept that Airbnb and others don’t respect the law,” JDD quoted Hidalgo as saying. “Our control inspectors have listed a first batch of 1,000 illegal ads, which could be fined 12,500 euros each.”
“The goal is to trigger some electroshock and to end these uncontrolled rentals which taint some Parisian districts,” the newspaper cited her as saying.
Airbnb disputed the claim, saying it has “already implemented adapted measures, with several touristic short-term rental platforms, to help Parisian hosts rent their homes in compliance with European rules.” It particularly takes issue with city authorities’ contention that Airbnb must pro-actively monitor the lawfulness of ads on its website, the spokeswoman said in a phone interview.
The San Francisco-based online platform has to abide by EU consumer rules, such as transparent pricing information. But some European countries have tightened their oversight further, blaming Airbnb for spurring rental-price increases and creating a shortage of housing available to locals.
“We hope to be able to work with all concerned players toward solutions that are really suited to French cities and their inhabitants,” the Airbnb spokeswoman said.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Photo credit: Paris is limiting the number of nights that short-term rental hosts can rent out their entire homes or apartments to just 120 days. David Elliot / Airbnb