Czech Republic: Councillors in a district of Prague have launched a petition calling for tougher regulation of shared accommodation services such as Airbnb.
Those launching the campaign in city centre district, Prague 1, say private home-sharing has turned into a regular business but is not subject to the same strict regulation as is the case for hotels and other accommodation facilities.
Prague has in recent years become one of the most popular destinations for Airbnb travellers, with the website’s share of overnight stays in the Czech capital reaching 14.9 per cent in 2017, a 4.7 per cent increase from the previous year. This accounted for a total number of 1.79 million overnight stays.
Currently, there are around 3,500 to 5,000 apartments rented via shared accommodation services in Prague 1.
This has led to the district’s councillors complaining about the loud noise that tourists make from hosting indoor parties, which filters down the streets and perturbs the permanent tenants.
They also say there are many buildings where there are only one or two original tenants left, and this will eventually lead to the depopulation of the entire district.
The Czech Republic’s tax collection agency has recently accessed and compiled data on people renting out property through Airbnb and started looking into whether they are meeting their obligations.
The tax authority also plans to impose penalties of up to 40 per cent, excluding back payments. Prague municipality can also charge Airbnb hosts penalties of up to 500,000 crowns if they fail to register for local taxes.
However, Prague 1 local councillors say financial regulation is just one part of the problem.
They are calling on the city of Prague and other state authorities to analyse the ways in which other cities and countries are addressing the problem.
The petitioners would like apartment owners to have more say when it comes to deciding about their building, as is already common in many other countries.
Prague 1’s mayor, Oldřich Lomecký, agrees stricter regulation is necessary, but he also points out that it must respect private ownership. One of the measures he favours is a limit on the sharing of private homes to 60 days.