European Commission set to propose data-sharing rules for STR platforms

Europe: The European Commission is set to introduce a proposal next week that would require the major short-term rental booking platforms to provide data on the number of users using their services and on the total nights they stay in listings to national authorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

The source told Reuters that the data would be stored at a single digital entry point that would be available to all public authorities.

It comes nearly a year after reports emerged that The European Commission was consulting on regulating the short-term rental market across the bloc, with a single set of pan-European rules among the options being considered. A public consultation period on short-term rental accommodation services closed last December and a major update has long been anticipated.

The draft proposal would be seen as a middle ground in placating short-term rental booking platforms who want to operate in compliance with local and national laws, as well as cities across the bloc of 27 countries that have long called for stricter regulations of such platforms, following reports of anti-social behaviour of guests in rental properties and claims that short-term rentals perpetuate housing crises and drive out local citizens with lower incomes from city centres.

Two years ago, the European Commission [and the European Union’s statistical agency, Eurostat] stuck a landmark partnership with the four private collaborative economy platforms [Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia Group, TripAdvisor] in March 2020, which gave public authorities in Europe access to independently published data on short-term rentals on the aforementioned platforms.

Last July, Eurostat released its first key data on the European short-term rental sector, and last month marked the first time that Eurostat had published monthly data on short-stay accommodation offered via online platforms referring to the current year.

The latest rules currently being drafted by the European Union would largely be similar to the data-sharing agreement set out two years ago.

While some cities across the continent have shown a degree of hostility towards the expansion of short-term rental operations, smaller towns and rural destinations are keen to attract greater numbers of tourists that will allow them to prosper economically. The European Commission is said to be mindful of this fact too and the proposed draft law would aim to balance the interests of both sides of the debate.

In recent years since going public via an initial public offering [IPO], Airbnb has sought to work more closely and transparently with cities across Europe, including capping the maximum number of days that homes on its platform can be rented out for in tourism hubs such as Amsterdam [entire homes for 30 nights a year], London [90 days a year] and Paris [120 days a year].

For the draft legislation to be written into EU law, however, the 27 member states of the European Union and the European Parliament will need to discuss and approve the proposals at some point next year.