Paris sues Airbnb for posting “illegal” rental adverts

Paris: The City of Paris is suing Airbnb for publishing 1,000 illegal rental adverts, which could cost the company over €12.5 million euros (£10.9 million or $14 million).

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, made the announcement in an interview with the French weekly newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche. She said her issue was Parisians who treat home-sharing like a business, rather than those who only rent out for “a few days a year”.

Hidalgo said: “The problem is the multi-owners who rent all year round apartments to tourists without declaring them, and the platforms, accomplices, who welcome them.”

What does the French law say about rental adverts in its cities?

Under French law, home owners in the French capital, as well as in cities such as Lille and Lyon, are limited to renting out their properties for no longer than 120 days a year via Airbnb. All advertisements must also include a registration number to ensure that properties are not rented out for longer periods.

The law was introduced after short-term rental sites like Airbnb were criticised for supposedly contributing to rising housing prices and shortages.

How could hosts be punished if they are found to be posting illegal rental adverts?

Hidalgo said the authorities may potentially fine each property listing illegal rental adverts €12,500 each under a law that was passed in France in 2018.

She said: “The goal is to send a shot across the bows to get it over with unauthorised rentals that spoil some Parisian neighbourhoods.”

What is the situation like in other cities around the world?

Several cities worldwide have expressed concerns that platforms such as Airbnb stand as unfair competitors to hotels and can turn some neighbourhoods into sterile, tourist-only zones.

Meanwhile, other cities have already instated caps or require permits for those renting out properties via short-term rental platforms.

In Barcelona, newly-elected mayor Ada Colau froze all licences for new hotels and holiday rental apartments in 2015 and handed Airbnb a €30,000 fine for reportedly falling foul of the city’s strict rental regulations.

Furthermore, Berlin banned tourists from renting out entire apartments through Airbnb in 2016, while a new law, entitled “Zweckentfremdungsverbot”, banned tourists without city permits from renting out entire apartments.

An Airbnb spokeswoman said the company had introduced measures to help its Paris users comply with European regulations, but added that the rules in Paris were “inefficient, disproportionate and in contravention of European rules”.

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