Airbnb ordered to pay $9.5m fine by Paris court

France: Airbnb has been ordered to pay eight million euros [$9.5 million] in fines by a court in Paris after more than 1000 of its listings were found to be flouting registration laws in the French capital.

The home-sharing platform was fined 8000 euros per listing “given the severity of the violations… and their consequences with regards of the public interest of fighting against the shortage of rental lodgings”, although the overall fine was lower than the 12.5 million euros that was anticipated by Paris authorities.

The ruling has been made after a long-running saga, beginning in 2019 when the case was first filed. Officials in Paris, one of Airbnb’s most prominent markets, found that 1,010 listings on the home-sharing platform in the city did not have the necessary registration number after a law was passed four years ago.

Short-term rental properties are permitted to be rented out no more than 120 nights per year and all related income must be disclosed to the tax authorities in Paris.

A war of words has broken out between the rental platform and the French capital over perceived grievances that Airbnb is perpetuating a shortage in affordable housing in the city by driving up property prices. Airbnb has defended itself by saying that, as a service provider, it should not be held accountable for ensuring its users comply with local regulations.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, previously told French weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that Parisians were “treating home-sharing like a business, rather than those who only rent out for a few days a year”.

Her anger towards the platform was further intensified by the partnership between the International Olympic Committee’s [IOC] and Airbnb ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, due to be held in 2024.

On this week’s announcement, Hidalgo wrote on Twitter: “This ruling, a first in France, is a great victory in our fight for housing for all and the regulation of the rental market.”

Meanwhile, deputy mayor Ian Brossat called the ruling a “victory” in one interview, claiming that more the half of Airbnb’s 30,000 listings in Paris were not supplying valid registration numbers. Prior to the pandemic, it was reported that there were 65,000 listings on Airbnb in the French capital.

Airbnb says it will now require all of its hosts in Paris to provide proof that their apartments have been registered with the city, marking a change in the company’s stance. Until now, the platform would not ban renters who failed to provide legitimate registration numbers on their listings.

The platform is also pledging to introduce similar rules in Bordeaux from 30 July, and other popular French tourist destinations such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice and Marseille later this year.

Airbnb said in a statement: “This new step is part of several commitments by Airbnb to promote responsible tourism.”

However, it clarified that a “large majority” of Paris homeowners were already acting in compliance with the regulations outlined by Parisian authorities.