Airbnb faces backlash in Toronto and Paris | Airbnb

Airbnb is under new pressure on both sides of the Atlantic, with Toronto winning a big victory over the proliferation of “ghost hotels” and Paris denouncing a “risky” deal between the Olympic committee and the short-term rental company.

After nearly two years of appeals, an Ontario court ruled in favor of regulations passed by Toronto, Canada’s largest city, to curb short-term rentals.

The new rules force operators to live in the properties they list online, including those published on Airbnb; limits them to the list of three rooms at a time; and requires them to register to rent premises.

In recent years, Toronto has struggled with a housing shortage, with rental vacancy rates hovering around 1.1%, below a “healthy” rate of 3%. Much of the frustration over the crisis has been directed to Airbnb. Critics argue it is pushing landlords to take rental housing off the long-term market; research suggests that Airbnb’s presence has withdrawn from the market thousands of rental units.

The spokesperson for the San Francisco-based company said Toronto’s rules would “unfairly punish” responsible homeowners, but that would work with the city when the regulations take effect.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said, “This is great news for residents of Toronto and a step in the right direction when it comes to regulating short-term rentals and keeping our neighborhoods liveable. “

The decision could lead to the return to the market of 5,000 long-term rental units, according to court arbitrator Scott Tousaw. “Whatever the number, one fact is indisputable: each [short-term rental] the unit moves a permanent household. This household must find another place to live, ”he wrote.

FairBnb Canada, an advocacy group seeking tougher rules, called the decision a “major victory” for tenants. “Much of the president’s reasoning reflects our position and confirms that we have been reasonable advocates of a level playing field from the very beginning,” he said.

Although the court ruling will ease supply shortages in the coming months, many residents are still struggling to cover the cost of rent. A survey of the Canadian Rental Housing Index found Toronto to be “gravely unaffordable”, residents often using more than half of their income to pay rent.

Authorities in Paris have also blamed Airbnb for causing a shortage of long-term rental housing in the city, pushing up rents and pushing out the middle class.

On Tuesday, the mayor of the city, Anne Hidalgo, expressed her “total determination” to curb Airbnb and threatened to ban it in certain districts of central Paris.

The French capital is one of Airbnb’s largest markets with around 60,000 registrations, up from just 4,000 in 2012. The company on Monday signed a controversial nine-year sponsorship deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Hidalgo, a socialist seeking re-election as mayor next year, has already put in place measures requiring Airbnb owners to limit rentals to 120 nights a year and register their properties with the town hall, which is initiating legal action for a 12.5million euros (£ 10.7million) fine against the company for failing to fire those who did not.

In a letter sent to IOC chief Thomas Bach ahead of Monday’s deal, Hidalgo warned that any rapprochement would be risky. “By removing a significant number of homes in Paris, Airbnb is contributing to the rise in rents and worsening the shortage of apartments in the rental market, to the detriment of all Parisians, especially the middle class,” writes Hidalgo. She accused Airbnb of “destabilizing local businesses and competing harshly with traditional hotels.”

The mayor has threatened to severely restrict and even ban short-term tourist rentals in parts of the city if tighter restrictions are not put in place. Last month, the French upper house, the Senate, approved a measure allowing local authorities in France to reduce the maximum number of rental nights to between 60 and 120, but this decision is unlikely to be adopted by the National Assembly.

Jean-François Martins, the deputy mayor in charge of sports and tourism, said that if Hidalgo is re-elected, the town hall will hold a referendum immediately after next year’s elections so that Parisians can decide “on the terms of use of Airbnb “in the city.

“She thinks Airbnb is having a bad impact on housing. Parisians will have the choice between several options, including the possibility of banning Airbnb in certain neighborhoods, ”he said.

Joe Gebbia, Airbnb co-founder, said the IOC partnership “will ensure the Games are the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable to date.”

But Ian Brossat, the deputy mayor in charge of housing, said he regretted the choice of the IOC as a partner “at a time when many cities in Europe and the world are fighting against Airbnb”.

On Twitter, he wrote: “[It is] totally irresponsible given the disastrous consequences Airbnb has had on our cities. We are dealing with a company which does not have the means to pay its taxes in France but which can find the means to sign a deal with the CIO.

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