A major European destination has just been banned from Airbnb. Will the others follow?
As travel to Europe has been severely disrupted by COVID-19, another hurdle awaits potential visitors: You might not find a cheap Airbnb.
As reported by The New York Times, Barcelona is the first major city in Europe to ban short-term private room rentals. The new laws, which came into effect on August 6, allow owners to rent entire apartments if they have the appropriate permit.
City officials cite housing problems and excessive tourism behind the need for the crackdown. But critics suggest housing rules levy hefty “unwarranted” fines against hosts and remove an important source of income for residents.
“We are very happy that people come to Barcelona and appreciate Barcelona because we love our city and we want to share it – but we need rules and we need balance,” said Janet Sanz, deputy mayor of Barcelona. Times. “The people of Barcelona can still rent a room for a year to a student coming from abroad. But for less than 31 days, it is such a delicate market to regulate that it must now be stopped.
There is, or was, a lot of demand – in 2016, just seven years after Airbnb launched in Barcelona, there were 20,000 Airbnb listings; in July (before the new crackdown), there were more than 16,000, according to the independent site Inside Airbnb. And just before the pandemic hit, the city hosted more than 21 million overnight stays in 2019 (the figures for the last two years were of course much lower).
A wave of anti-tourism protests, a sharp rise in rental prices in popular Airbnb neighborhoods and Ada Colau’s election as Barcelona mayor have contributed to recent decisions. Airbnb itself, while protesting the new laws, said it has already removed more than 7,000 listings from the city that violate the new regulations.
Will others follow suit? Barcelona is currently is part of an association of 22 European cities calling for a new ‘legislative framework for the digital single market, which will ensure that holiday rental platforms are obliged to share relevant data with municipal administrations’. Meaning: Expect more major European metropolises to demand potentially damning data from sites like Airbnb and impose stricter short-term rental laws in the near future, especially if and when travel returns to levels from 2019.
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