Vienna [Unsplash]

Vienna to tighten short-term rental rules next summer

Austria: The Austrian capital city of Vienna is poised to introduce tighter short-term rental restrictions from next summer.

As of July 2024, property owners and hosts in Vienna will only be able to rent out individual units for a maximum of 90 days a year. Those wanting exceptions will be required to apply with the city authorities.

The new rules will effectively remove the distinction between residential zones – which have operated with similar restrictions for the last five years – and those zones in the city which were not previously bound by such legislation, when it comes to short-term rentals.

Vienna has seen a post-pandemic influx of tourists with around 7.5 million overnight stays in the first half of the year, coming close to levels seen in 2019.

Speaking to Austrian publication Der Standard, Tourism Vienna spokesperson Walter Strasser said that the amendment would “take the sharing economy back to its founding narrative and help make sure entire dwellings are not taken off the housing market”.

In previous years, the City of Vienna and Airbnb have experienced something of a strained relationship, with the city winning a lawsuit in May 2021 that meant that city-owned apartments / municipal buildings [otherwise known as Gemeindebau] would no longer be available for subletting on platforms such as Airbnb.

At the time, Airbnb agreed to the following range of measures in Vienna:

  • Airbnb would regularly inform its hosts in Vienna that accommodation in municipal housing should not be sublet and those who break the rules would be removed from the platform.
  • Airbnb would grant the city of Vienna access to the Airbnb city portal as its first partner in Austria. In that way, city authorities could inform the platform of any suspect listings that may be violating the ban on subletting apartments in municipal housing.
  • A nationwide digital registration process would be implemented for all Airbnb hosts in Austria. Similar to the existing systems that had been set up in the Netherlands, France and Spain, Airbnb would work alongside the EU Commission to provide regular rental statistics from cities in Austria, and tax data would continue to be shared with the country’s Ministry of Finance.
  • A telephone hotline would be launched, meaning that neighbours, tenants or owners could report suspected illegal rentals or excessively loud parties discreetly to Airbnb.

The year before that, Vienna-based Wiener Wohnen, Europe’s largest public housing management service with 220,000 apartment rentals at the time, banned its tenants from subletting via Airbnb although the rules were not always followed. Wiener Wohnen took the issue to court and won, despite an appeal by Airbnb.

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