France: Officials in Paris have levied more than US$1.5 million of fines on unregistered Airbnb rentals since the start of 2018.
Paris was Airbnb’s single-biggest city market worldwide at the end of last year. French regulations forbid residents from renting their property to third parties for more than 120 nights in a year, also requiring them to have written approval from landlords before doing so.
In October of 2016, Paris passed a measure to strengthen enforcement of these rules, specifically requiring Airbnb hosts to secure an official “registration number” with the local government for each property they list on the site. Although the deadline to comply was December 1 of last year, in mid-January, about 80 per cent of listings on Airbnb had failed to register, according to a report by French newspaper Le Figaro.
Airbnb spokesperson Aurelien Perol said earlier this year: “We remain disappointed that we aren’t so far able to collaborate with city authorities as effectively as we are in other major European cities, including Berlin, Barcelona and London.”
Ian Brossat, head of housing at Paris’ city hall, said Airbnb and similar services threaten to transform traditionally residential communities into tourist vacation spots, while also diminishing the city’s housing stock and driving up rent prices.
“We must hold the platforms responsible,” Bossat said. “Airbnb today is fine with not respecting the law,” he added. Bros. also revealed that the city would start going after the site directly, not just the hosts violating the registration regulations.
“Today, we are punishing the landlords, but we are not touching Airbnb, which nonetheless makes money on these illegal listings. That’s going to change,” he said.
Airbnb responded by saying that the “broken registration scheme” works only to “preserve hotel lobbies’ interests while failing to address local concerns on housing”.
To combat the legislation, in July this year Airbnb has announced a partnership deal with real estate agency Century 21 in a deal which will allow subletting in Paris. Airbnb says the goal of the partnership “is to make it easier to sublet so hosts can welcome guests up to 120 days per year on Airbnb. A win-win deal as tenants, landlords and the agency all share the income when a booking is made on Airbnb”.
Any tenant or landlord whose contract has been entered into with Century 21 may apply for an Airbnb-friendly lease, which authorises subletting as part of a revenue share between the landlord, tenant and agency.
For any booking, net revenues (after Airbnb’s commission) are shared, with 70 per cent going to the tenant, 23 per cent for the property owner and seven per cent for the Century 21 agency.
The process is as follows: The tenant makes the request to Century 21, who gets the agreement of the owner. Then the agency puts the listing on Airbnb and deals with any administrative procedures required. The tenant then manages the daily use of his listing: adding photos, adjusting prices, setting availabilities and welcoming guests.
Airbnb said in a statement: “Subletting is legal in France, as long as you have written permission from the owner. With the Airbnb-friendly lease, subletting will be much better supervised. Moreover, this deal does not dry up the supply of housing in tense areas but encourages subletting of occupied homes. In Paris, more than 60 per cent of households are rented, and housing is their main expense. With this new subletting regime, they will be able to increase their purchasing power and build their lives in Paris. This lease will also allow more mobility for students and young workers. When they travel, they may receive an additional source of income.”
The partnership will be trialled in Paris with a view to rolling it out across Century 21’s 852 branches across France. The scope for the partnership is potentially much bigger – founded in the US in 1971, Century 21 is the one of the world’s largest franchised estate agencies, with more than 7,400 independently owned and operated offices in 78 countries.