Ten tourist cities in Europe have signed a joint statement demanding that the European Union do more to help them regulate Airbnb and other short-term holiday rental websites, which they claim are damaging housing markets and changing the character of local communities.
The statement was signed by representatives of Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Vienna, who said the rapid expansion of global short-stay lettings platforms must be on the agenda of the next set of European commissioners.
The joint statement read in part: “Where homes can be used more lucratively for renting out to tourists, they disappear from the traditional housing market, prices are driven up even further and housing of citizens who live and work in our cities is hampered. European cities believe that homes should be used first and foremost for living in.”
The joint statement was prompted by a non-binding opinion issued by the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice in April. The opinion said Airbnb should be classified as a technology platform, rather than an accommodation provider. This could mean that Airbnb would not have to abide by the same laws that govern bed and breakfast premises, hotels and other vacation rentals. The opinion has yet to be confirmed by the court.
If approved by the court, that status proposed in the opinion would allow Airbnb and similar platforms to operate freely across the EU and would relieve them of any responsibility to ensure that landlords comply with local rules which are aimed at regulating holiday lets.
A spokesperson for Airbnb said the platform aims to be a good partner to cities. “The opinion of the Advocate General provides a clear overview of what rules apply to collaborative platforms like Airbnb and how these rules help create opportunities to consumers,” the spokesperson told CNET.
The ten European cities who signed the statement said local authorities must be able to counter the adverse effects of the boom in short-term holiday lets, such as rising rents for full-time residents and the increasing impact of tourism on local neighbourhoods, by introducing their own regulations depending on the local situation.
Many cities claim that apart from soaring long-term rents, the growth in short-term holiday rental listings is also affecting property speculation and poor social housing. Last year Palma de Mallorca voted to ban almost all listings after a 50% increase in short-term holiday rentals was followed by a 40% increase in residential rents.
Several cities are taking drastic action. In Paris, land lords face a fine if they fail to register with the council before letting any property for short-term use. Amsterdam has tried to cut its annual limit for holiday lets to one month in 12, while Barcelona has suspended all new short-term rental permits But city authorities fear the European Union’s attempts to promote e-commerce and the “sharing economy” are impeding efforts by the cities to ensure that neighbourhoods remain both affordable and liveable for residents.
Airbnb has more than 6 million listings worldwide and is represented in almost 100,000 cities. That is more listings than the top five hotel chains combined.
The joint statement by the 10 EU cities is available at – http://bit.ly/2X8Bka8