[Credit: Freepik]

Venice doubles down on restriction plans for short-term rentals

Italy: The mayor of Venice has doubled down on plans to introduce strict controls on short-term rentals.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro told Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale that there had been “enough mischief” leading to a “depopulation” of the city centre.

Last July, the Italian government capped the number of days that properties can be rented out per year at 120 but Brugnaro is yet to enact the rule.

Brugnaro said last week: “We don’t want the city and the lagoon to be just places for tourists. We won’t allow it. This must also be the city of residents, students, and those who want to live there all year round. We will win this challenge.”

Venice has struggled to find a balance between tourism and overcrowding and has introduced a number of rules to combat the problem such as charging day trippers to enter the city and banning cruise ships from the historic lagoon. However, people have found ways to move around rules with at least one company bringing in guests on smaller ships. Other companies have also opted to dock their ships at nearby ports such as Ravenna and then bring guests in via coach.

In recent years, Venice has been at the heart of a short-term rental regulatory debate as it bids to find a suitable balance between welcoming tourists to the city and ‘over-tourism’. To address this, the local government has introduced a tourist tax for day trippers travelling to Venice, as well as charging tourists to enter some cultural sites and banning cruise ships from the world-famous Venetian Lagoon, an enclosed bay of the Adriatic Sea.

In December, it was revealed that Rome is planning to crack down on the listing of new short-term rentals and drive further regulations across Italy in a bid to stop the “desertification” of historic towns and cities across the country.

It came amid mounting criticism from residents and the municipal government that the renting out of homes to tourists was leading to a rapidly declining local population and the eradication of the capital city’s soul.

It is estimated that there are now more than 25,000 bed and breakfasts [B&Bs] and holiday homes listed as short-term rentals in Rome [with at least 10,000 said to be operating illegally], which critics say has led to the population of the city’s historic centre plummeting to under 170,000 – a decrease of around 20,000 people in the past three decades.

Potential restrictions could include ordering an outright ban on new short-term rental listings, reducing the number of listings in certain areas of the centre, placing limits on the proportion of flats per building that can be rented out, or authorising properties to be rented out for a limited number of days each year, as other major capitals across Europe already do.

Authorities in other historic cities across Italy such as Milan, Florence and Bologna are also discussing potential legislation but they are growing increasingly frustrated with perceived inaction.

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