Published 07:04 June 24, 2019
Updated 07:04 June 24, 2019
Local authorities in several European cities claim they are unable to deal with housing shortages due to the rise of the world’s most popular online hospitality service, Airbnb.
In a letter
jointly signed by Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia, and Vienna that was addressed to the EU institutions, the group claims that the short-term holiday rental model used by Airbnb “has caused nuisances that have led to the touristification of numerous neighbourhoods, European cities believe that homes should be used, first and foremost,
for living in.”
The 10 signatories went on to claim that “Where homes can be used more lucratively to rent out to tourists, they disappear from the traditional housing market. Prices are driven up even further and the housing of citizens who live and work in our cities is hampered.”
This latest attempt by several municipalities in Europe follows a recent non-binding decision by an advocate general at the European Court of Justice which ruled that Airbnb should be regarded as a digital service provider under EU legislation. If adopted into law, this would clear Airbnb to operate across the European Union without being hindered by local holiday letting rules.
Those who have come out against Airbnb’s right to operate freely across the whole of the European Union without having to deal with cumbersome bureaucratic hurdles that hinder the growth of the hospitality market say local municipal authorities need to be able to enact their own regulations, as many do at this moment, in order to be able to counter the problems caused by circular economy companies that operate online, including Airbnb and several other platforms.
Airbnb’s opponents want the online platform to provide municipalities with information, such as the maximum number of days allowed for each individual rental, which Airbnb currently does not provide to the local authorities.
“For this, we need strong legal obligations for platforms to cooperate with us in registration-schemes and in supplying the rental-data for each house that is advertised on their platforms,” the joint statement adds. “Where platforms claim that they are willing to cooperate with the authorities, in practice they don’t or only do so on a voluntary basis”.
“Homes needed for residents to live and work in our cities will, more and more, be considered a market for renting out to tourists. We think that cities are best placed to understand their residents’ needs. One thing must be clear: A carte blanche for holiday rental platforms is not the solution,” the group of 10 cities said in their letter, which went on to emphasise that they will “continue to address the housing shortages” in the hope that they receive the backing of the new European Parliament and the incoming European Commission.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb
is an online marketplace and hospitality service which enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel, and hotel rooms. The platform revolutionised the hospitality business model and changed the way it conducted marketing. It identified a fundamental living space and unemployment problem by allowing those with property to become a host by offering affordable lodging.
Airbnb takes 3% commission of every booking from hosts, and between 6% and 12% from guests.
Peer-to-peer accommodation networks like Airbnb are disrupting the traditional hospitality model, as tourists choose to live with the locals instead of staying in hotels. Not only can both guests and hosts save money in many cases, but there is the added attraction of going off the well-trodden tourist track and connecting with local communities.
The popularity of the Airbnb model is such that it is now the world’s largest hospitality company, operating in over 190 countries and with a market value worth €23 billion.