France: Airbnb and other short-term rental booking platforms are bracing themselves for the enforcement of tighter regulations in Paris ahead of next summer’s 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in the French capital.
It comes as the French Government prepares to sign a charter later this year that will require platforms like Airbnb to display notifications on listings in Paris that are being priced significantly higher than those of a similar size for stays between 26 July and 11 August – the dates when the 2024 Olympics will be held.
Paris, along with Bordeaux, Marseille, Lille, Nice, Lyon, Saint-Étienne, Nantes and Toulouse, will also host the 2023 Rugby World Cup from next month, causing searches for accommodation in the city to surge by more than 30 per cent in Q2 compared to Q1, while the number of listings has also shot up by more than 60 per cent, according to Le Parisien.
According to the report, the new legislation is expected to come into effect by the start of 2024.
Olivia Grégoire, Minister delegate for small and medium enterprise, trade, craft and tourism, told the publication: “We will sign a charter of commitment this autumn with the main platforms, including Airbnb, so that they commit to alerting renters when the price is abnormally high. This is one of the twelve proposals we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup this autumn and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.”
The minister said that “millions of international tourists” were expected to attend the two sporting spectacles, adding that they are “not meant to be ripped off”.
A Deloitte study published earlier this year suggested that prices in the Île-de-France region [which includes Paris] could increase by as much as 85 per cent during the Games next year, meaning that a one-night stay on average could cost almost €400.
Meanwhile, the French Institute of Public Opinion [IFOP] found that almost 20 per cent of residents in the region who do not currently list on platforms such as Airbnb expect to do so next summer to capitalise on traveller demand. Airbnb currently lists around 22,000 units in Paris and that number is anticipated to skyrocket over the next 12 months.
The situation is all the more ironic given that Airbnb signed a $500 million deal with the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees to become a Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partner in November 2019, spanning nine years [including the 2020, 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games, the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympic Games, and the next five editions of the Paralympics]. The debut of Airbnb’s partnership had to be delayed until 2021 after the Tokyo 2020 Games were postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Airbnb’s partnership with the IOC and IPC is at odds with groups in France who have criticised the platform for driving up property prices in towns and cities across the country and restricting housing supply. A coalition of 20 communities, including Marseille, another Olympic host city, called on the French Government to tighten restrictions on short-term rental platforms in June.
Anne Hidalgo, Paris’ mayor since 2014, announced plans in 2020 to hold a non-binding referendum on Airbnb and other platforms’ short-term rental operations in the city in a bid to free up more residential accommodation in the capital. She has since laid out plans for a “greener” future in Paris in the wake of the pandemic, which includes minimising new construction for the Games and halving carbon emissions during the 2024 Games compared to the average for the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games respectively.
At the moment, only principal residences can be freely rented out to tourists in France, however they first need to register at the town hall [mairie] and rent out for no more than 120 days a year.
In recent years, Paris has stepped up its crackdown on landlords and property owners who break the law by renting out beyond the 120-day limit, with authorities threatening hefty fines as a punishment.
At the end of 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union [ CJEU ] in Luxembourg determined that Airbnb be classified as an “information society service” rather than as a property broker, meaning that the platform would not require an estate agent’s licence to continue operating in France.