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Florence's ban on new short-term residential lets in its historic center may seem like a step towards addressing the housing crisis, but it's unclear if this local action will have a significant impact without broader government regulation in place.

Florence, one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, has banned new short-term residential lets on platforms such as Airbnb in its historic centre, in the latest move by a local authority to try to free up more homes for locals.

The rules, approved by the Tuscan city late on Monday, also offer three years of tax breaks to landlords of existing short-term lets if they switch to ordinary leases.

Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, said the city decided to act locally because government plans to regulate the sector had been disappointing.

“In 2016 we had just under 6,000 apartments listed on Airbnb, today we have almost 14,378”, he said, noting that during that time the average cost of ordinary monthly residential rents had leapt 42%.

This year, prices have increased by 15.1%, Nardella said.

“The 40,000 Florentines who live in the centre are complaining about finding themselves, all of a sudden, living in apartment-hotels,” he added.

Nardella is a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, part of the opposition at national level.

As in other European countries, a mixture of low salaries, property shortages, short-term holiday rentals and high inflation have fuelled a housing crisis in Italy, with low earners and students hit particularly hard.

There are similar problems further afield, with New York tightening up regulations on short-term rentals.

Marco Stella, regional coordinator of the Forza Italia party, part of the right-wing ruling coalition, said it would appeal to the administrative court against Florence’s move.

Lorenzo Fagnoni, president of Property Managers Italia, an association of tourist rental entrepreneurs, said the rules were “a completely wrong choice that go against the liberalism of the market.”

Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The central government is working on a bill which, according to media reports, would require a minimum stay of two nights in properties in historic city centres and municipalities with a high density of tourists.

Each residential property rented to tourists would need a national identification code to help track and regulate lettings. Those failing to comply would risk a penalty of up to 5,000 euros ($5,500).

(Reporting by Silvia Ognibene Writing by Francesca Piscioneri Editing by Mark Potter)

This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


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Tags: airbnb, italy

Photo credit: A tourist taking a selfie outside the Duomo in Florence. Reuters

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