Airbnb collapse means European cities can return to residents, officials say | Airbnb

Airbnb revolutionized travel and since its inception in 2008, hundreds of thousands of owners have used the vacation accommodation platform to make ends meet, earn a living and, in some cases, earn a living.

But as hosts, as they are known, wring their hands over the collapse of the travel industry and their loss of income, many city officials are rubbing theirs at the prospect of thousands of rentals returning. rentals on the traditional rental market. Cities complain that highly profitable vacation rentals have driven up rents and evicted residents with the ripple effect that local businesses no longer have a community to serve.

“We hope to see a third or even half of these approved tourist apartments become normal rental apartments over the next three years,” said Janet Sanz, deputy mayor of Barcelona.

This was taken up by Ian Brossat, the Paris deputy mayor in charge of housing. “We intend to take advantage of this to regain control,” he said.

Brossat said Airbnb listings had “collapsed” in Paris and hosts registered just 40 stays with authorities in the first three weeks of April, compared to an average of 1,210 per month for the year. last. Airbnb refutes the numbers, preferring to focus on supply rather than demand.

Meanwhile, a report from vacation rental analysts Transparent shows a decline of around 98% in bookings in Spain since the start of the lockdown on March 14. No one expects a quick recovery and in Spain the tourism industry has effectively canceled 2020 and is looking to next year.

In order to recoup their losses, landlords are now turning to the conventional rental market, with hundreds if not thousands of apartments on offer in Spanish cities for short rentals of up to a year, clearly with a view to a recovery in 2021.

However, short rentals are only legal for people who need to temporarily move to town for work. As no one is allowed to move at present, such rentals are likely illegal and Sanz says efforts will be made to prosecute.

Barcelona has had a long-running war with Airbnb. There are 9,600 licensed holiday apartments in the town and at least as many are unlicensed, contributing to a boom in tourism to the town since the platform started offering listings in 2009. The platform is also accused of driving up rents in the city.

“What tourist apartment owners want now is stability, and they can get that with conventional rentals,” Sanz believes. “Of course, they will earn less than they would rent to tourists.”

Paris City Hall estimates that Airbnb is depriving residents of around 30,000 homes used exclusively for short-term tourist rentals. Photography: Jacques Witt/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

Paris City Hall, also a longtime opponent of Airbnb’s relentless expansion, estimates the platform deprives city residents of around 30,000 homes used exclusively for short-term tourist rentals, including up to 25% of apartments in the four central districts.

Brossat says The Sunday Journal that authorities feared that some cash-strapped hosts were renting out their apartments for prostitution or other illicit activities, while others were illegally using a new type of medium-term rental contract lasting from one to nine months and reserved for students and employees on secondment or attending training courses.

“The city could buy some of these apartments and put them back on the traditional rental market,” Brossat said. “Several hundred apartments in the center of Paris could be affected.”

A similar pattern has emerged in Dublin, where there is a estimated at 9,400 Airbnb apartments. A week after Covid-19 restrictions began in mid-March, 170 additional rental properties in central Dublin have been advertised on, Ireland’s leading property website. The push continued, although at a slower pace.

However, the number of people switching to medium- and long-term rentals is a stream, not a river, and suggests that most hosts plan to sit tight in the hope that tourists return later this year. “A small change, but not a dramatic one,” said Eoin Ó Broin, housing spokesman for opposition Sinn Féin.

However, Ó Broin and housing activists hope that Airbnb’s renewed scrutiny will prompt authorities to expand and enforce regulations to require hosts who have more than one property to obtain planning permission.

Since the regulations were introduced last year, only a handful of hosts have applied for permission, and thousands more have failed to comply. Ó Broin proposes to make it illegal for Airbnb and real estate agents to advertise non-compliant properties, and to enforce this through fines.

An empty main street in central Dublin during lockdown.
In Dublin, there are approximately 9,400 Airbnb apartments. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

Airbnb is optimistic about the challenge it faces. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Today there are more listings on Airbnb than a year ago and our platform will continue to be an economic lifeline for hosts at coming. We are already seeing encouraging signs of domestic travel growth in some markets, and the number of long-term stays on Airbnb has nearly doubled. We will continue to work with cities to ensure everyone benefits from travel on Airbnb, based on our experience working with more than 500 governments and organizations around the world.

Nevertheless, the company dismissed 1,900 employees, about 25% of the total. In Barcelona, ​​he terminated the contract of a call center, resulting in the loss of 800 jobs.

Many more jobs will be lost in the coming year. An internal Barcelona City Council report predicts that many small and medium-sized tourist-oriented businesses will not survive and refers to an “irrecoverable loss of jobs” and the prospect of “streets without life or commerce, especially in areas most oriented to tourism”.

But for many locals, who thought the town was irrevocably lost to mass tourism, there is hope. “We have the opportunity to redesign the city,” says Sanz. “For years we have been saying that we want to recover the Rambla and the beaches for the residents. The company must adapt. It has to offer what the people who live here want, which is not souvenirs and sangria. A monoculture for tourists will not work.

Comments are closed.