France: Airbnb has been told it must pay nearly 52,000 euros [$59,000] in compensation to the owner of an apartment in Paris after a tenant was found to have sublet it without her knowledge.
It will also have to pay an extra 5,000 euros on top to pay for legal fees, and the full 1,558 euros it received in commissions from the illegal subletting.
In the case, which was heard on 5 June in Paris, the judge confirmed the booking platform could be considered a publisher for its role in connecting hosts and travellers to provide short-term accommodation. Under that ruling, Airbnb would be liable to the same legal requirements as other publishers.
The court ruled that Airbnb had “contributed to the owner’s harm through its faulty behaviour”, meaning it was at fault for the host’s actions and it had failed to adequately inspect listings for the property on its platform.
According to court documents seen by Le Figaro newspaper in France, the tenant sublet the apartment in the capital for a total of 534 days between 2016 and 2017 without the owner’s permission, thereby violating Airbnb’s conditions of renting.
Airbnb has now confirmed its attention to appeal the court’s decision, arguing that the case constitutes a private dispute between the landlord and tenant.
Lawyer Jonathan Bellaiche, representing the flat’s owner, told Le Parisien newspaper that the court ruling would have a significant impact on the booking platform.
He said: “This decision brings financial responsibilities to bear on Airbnb, which will be answerable for abuses committed on its platform. Legal risk has become an economic risk.”
Meanwhile in December, the Court of Justice of the European Union [ CJEU ] in Luxembourg determined that Airbnb was to be classified as an “information society service” rather than as a property broker, therefore it would not require an estate agent’s licence to continue operating in France.