Mexico City proposes to ban home-sharing platforms

Mexico: Mexico City has joined the growing list of capital cities around the world proposing to ban home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb from listing properties within its municipalities. 

The bill that would severely restrict home-sharing operations in Mexico City was put forward by Leticia Estrada Hernández of the Leftist National Regeneration Movement [Morena] on 15 July in an attempt to reform zoning laws in the capital.

The proposed amendment to zoning law Article 17 states that all private residential property should be prohibited from carrying out “industrial, commercial or service activities, and for no reason may they be intended for temporary accommodation, as offered by the Airbnb platform and other similar platforms”.

In addition, condominium owners would be prohibited from carrying out maintenance during night time hours or without prior approval from the relevant authorities. Under the proposals, those who violate the terms would be subject to potential fines ranging between 4,344 and 26,064 pesos [US $195 – $1,667].

Despite the fact that such lodging platforms have been seen as a widely viable alternative to hotels for travellers as part of the “new normal” during the Covid-19 pandemic, Estrada said the bill had been driven by the desire to protect property owners and prevent unauthorised individuals from entering buildings and having disruptive parties. A vigilance committee would also be set up to ensure neighbourhood residents comply with the regulations.

However, the president of Mexico City’s congressional tourism commission, Patricia Báez Guerrero of the National Action Party [PAN], has voiced her opposition to Estrada’s proposal and at the same time defended the importance of platforms such as Airbnb during the pandemic.

Guerrero said short-term rentals generated around 4.34 million pesos per year [US $194,000] in tax revenue for the Mexican economy, given that there are a reported 17,229 rooms listed for rental in Mexico City alone. Of that total, homeowners who rent out their homes on such platforms earn on average 38,000 pesos a year, representing a crucial resource of revenue for hosts.

Furthermore, according to Guerrero, the bill would “destroy” all the work that has been done by the Ministry of Tourism to regulate digital lodging.

She said: “These deputies [from Morena] want to end everything that generates some money for the capital. Especially now that so much is needed with this contingency.”

“Perhaps the rise of this platform [Airbnb] is what has annoyed them. They aren’t thinking that, before the start of the pandemic, some people were renting out a room or their full home to tourists with what their costs would cover,” she added.

In recent weeks, the likes of Amsterdam and Budapest in Europe have announced plans to clamp down on lodging platforms for perceived disruption to local neighbourhoods and limiting available housing supply, forcing local residents out of the city centres.

Last week, Hungary’s government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, approved legislation that would pave the way for local governments to increase the regulation of short-term rentals in Budapest. The city’s mayor, Gergely Karácsony, also threw his weight behind the restrictions, which would include capping the number of days property owners and hosts can rent out their apartments on a short-term basis or even banning the practice altogether.

Similarly, Amsterdam has taken the step of banning all rental platforms from listing in three districts in the city centre, while other cities such as Prague, Paris and Barcelona have placed additional restrictions on short-term rental operations, whether it be caps on overnight stays or eliminating tax favours for such platforms.