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Paris family exodus attributed to Airbnb

France: Schools are closing at a rapid rate in central Paris as hurtling property prices are driving families out of the French capital, according to France24.

The publication reported on one school at Vaugirard, in which just 51 students were enrolled this year, and many parents and teachers are attributing this sharp decline on the surge of home-sharing service Airbnb.

Speaking to Agence France Presse (AFP), Jean-Jacques Renard, vice president of the FCPE parents’ association, said: “The centre of Paris is basically becoming a vast Airbnb hotel, and there are fewer and fewer residents.”

As real estate prices in Paris and many other European capitals have shot up in recent years, the knock-on effect has seen middle-class couples struggle to find suitably-sized family apartments in the city, which is facing a growing affordable housing crisis.

Record low interest rates have also led to the housing shortage of housing and Airbnb is taking increasing flak for its role in the trend. The popularity of the rental platform has pushed thousands of Paris-based property owners to turn their flats or commercial spaces into short-term rentals that bring in greater revenues and profits than traditional leases.

One report by the Paris Urbanism Institute last year concluded that the number of lodgings in the city that are not permanently occupied as primary residences rose by almost 30,000 between 2012 and 2017, an increase “likely due to the development of short-term rentals” it said.

Given the hike in rental and property prices across the city, more and more parents are heading for the cheaper suburbs or other cities altogether.

The fall in the number of children living in Paris has been shown to be inherently proportional to Airbnb’s own surge in growth over the last six years.

With 65,000 listings for a population of over two million across the city’s 20 districts, Paris represents Airbnb’s single largest market.

The Paris Urbanism Institute also reported that close to 90 per cent of the Paris listings account for an entire home.

City officials have accused Airbnb of effectively taking thousands of apartments off the available housing market.

Maxime Cochard, an advisor to Paris’ deputy mayor in charge of housing, told France24: “We don’t have a problem with vacation rentals, but we do when we lose an apartment that’s turned into an Airbnb rental.”

By law, apartments owned as second homes cannot be offered as short-term rentals in Paris. City officials themselves have said they have sued property owners for renting out almost entire buildings on Airbnb, as well as taken legal action against the rental service.

Cochard said Airbnb had been flouting a law which requires all listings to have a registration number that proves the apartment is a primary residence.

Laws that offer a high level of protection to renters have long put off many wealthy Parisians from renting out their homes in Paris out of fear of being stuck with a non-paying tenant.

Airbnb says it automatically restricts listings in Paris to the legal limit of 120 nights per year, which covers all French cities in general.

According to the INSEE national statistics office, real estate prices in the city have risen by almost 25 per cent since 2015. That would make Paris the second-most expensive EU capital to buy an apartment, with only London coming ahead of it.

On average, Parisian apartments typically cost 9,700 euros per square metre, prompting an exodus of families to less expensive suburbs and regional provinces.