France: Authorities in Paris have won a final court challenge in an effort to restrict the use of properties in the French capital for short-term rental operations.
France’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that regulations meant to hinder the effects of Airbnb and other short-term rental sites on the property market were “proportionate” and in accordance with European law.
The highest court in Europe, the European Court of Justice, also ruled in favour of Paris last September, but requested that France’s courts assess some of the specific details within the regulations. To tackle housing shortages, Paris city authorities have made tax registration obligatory for apartment owners and have restricted those renting out their primary residence to a maximum of 120 days a year.
The rules for those who own second homes are more restrictive.
In order to rent a furnished property for less than a year to travellers, owners must apply to local authorities for permission to change the registered use of the space. They are then required to buy a commercial property of an equivalent or bigger size and convert it into housing as compensation.
All of these elements, including the compensation mechanism, were ruled to be legal on Thursday. The decision means that the city will be able to resume its legal claims against 420 renters who have been fined 50,000 euros each for breaking the rules.
Paris has been at the forefront of efforts by many European cities to limit the effect of Airbnb and short-term rental spaces on the rental market. The victory seen in Paris last week is likely to encourage other European cities in their endeavours.
Deputy mayor Ian Brossat, who is in charge of housing, wrote on Twitter: “Total victory for the City of Paris against Airbnb and fraudsters who rent their properties illegally.”
It comes just weeks after Airbnb sought to tighten its control of short-term rentals in cities across France, by throwing out members who fail to register with their local authorities. The strengthening of restrictions is set to apply to popular tourist destinations across the country that have a strong Airbnb presence, such as Paris, Lyon and Bordeaux, while authorities recently banned short-term rentals in Nice during the February holiday, only to later reverse their decision.
From now on, Airbnb hosts in France will be required to display their formal registration numbers on all of their listings. Those that fail to comply will be subject to extra measures that can be imposed by the home-sharing platform, including having all reservations blocked for the foreseeable future.
Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris since 2014, has been vocal in her criticism of Airbnb, telling French weekly newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, of her annoyance was with Parisians who “treat home-sharing like a business, rather than those who only rent out for a few days a year”.
Last year, she announced plans to hold a referendum on Airbnb and other platforms’ short-term rental operations in the city as part of her six-year plan to lead the post-Covid recovery.