Paris Regulates Airbnb

Technology

Paris, France, has announced record fines for those who list their homes on the residence-listing service, Airbnb. Additionally, French lawmakers are close to the enactment of a law that would make the American company liable for thousands of unregistered listings on its site.

Last week Ian Brossat, the head of Paris’ city hall, told Politico that fines for illegal rentals listed on the site have reached 1.38 million Euros, already surpassing the total for 2017. Paris has taken a hard line against Airbnb, saying that individual-to-individual rentals diminish the city’s housing stock, drive up rents and tear the fabric of residential communities.

The city is not alone. Barcelona, Spain, is building a 100-man task force to crack down on unregistered Airbnb hosts. It also fined the service €600,000 last year. Berlin, Germany, nearly banned the service entirely in 2016. It reached an agreement with Airbnb in March to reopen the service with a ninety day cap on short-term rentals.

The hard feelings are not limited to Europe. New York City officials approved regulations earlier this month that ban rentals of less than thirty days, prompting Airbnb to sue. Registration requirements instituted by San Francisco have reportedly caused the number of listings to drop for that city by half on Airbnb.

Yet the problem posed by Paris may be the most damaging as France is Airbnb’s second largest country-market after the U.S. and Paris is its largest single market.

French rules prohibit individuals from subletting their homes for more than 120 nights per year. It also requires them to get written consent from their landlords to list their properties on the site. Residents who wish to rent their homes must obtain a registration number for their property before doing so.

The deadline for obtaining that registration number was December 2017 and up to 80% of the residents on the site failed to do so. As a result, those listings were banned.

Airbnb does not oppose regulation and has called the 120-night rule “sensible.” But banning residents who fail to obtain the registration numbers is a “disproportionate response,” they say.

The French government is also poised to pass the ELAN, or Evolution of Housing, Development and the Internet bill. That law would fine platforms that fail to remove unregistered residences from their listings.

“We must hold the platforms responsible,” Brossat said in the past. “Airbnb today is fine with not respecting the law,” he added.

“Today, we are punishing the landlords, but we are not touching Airbnb, which nonetheless makes money on these illegal listings. That’s going to change,” he said today to FranceInfo.

Airbnb says asking residents to register their residences is an onerous process that many residents will find discouraging. But Brossat says the process only takes three minutes. “Someone who is capable of placing a listing on Airbnb is absolutely capable of recuperating his registration number,” he says.

Airbnb says the extensive regulations only favors big business. “This broken registration scheme will only preserve hotel lobbies’ interests while failing to address local concerns on housing,” the company said through a spokesperson.

Photo by Open Grid Scheduler via Flickr

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