Airbnb fined €30,000 for illegal tourist rentals in Barcelona | Airbnb

They offer great city views, proximity to shopping and nightlife, and the chance to live like a local.

But what some of the Barcelona properties listed on Airbnb do not have, at least according to the government of Catalonia, it is legal. The regional government announced on Monday that it is imposing a €30,000 (£24,000) fine on the website for what it calls a “serious” breach of local laws.

Founded in 2008, Airbnb now lists more than half a million private properties in 192 countries for stays as short as one night and is valued at around $10 billion. Catalonia has figured prominently in its growth, with Barcelona consistently ranking as one of the site’s biggest markets, and the company launched a Catalan version of its website last April.

The Fine – the San Francisco-based company’s first in Europe – was for violating local laws which state that any apartment rented to tourists must be registered with the Tourism Registry of Catalonia. Regional laws also prohibit the rental of rooms in private residences.

Airbnb was one of eight rental sites fined by the Catalan government, but its success has made it the center of widespread opposition to private tourist rentals in Barcelona, ​​where in recent years hundreds of thousands of rentals private have been proposed to meet a growing number of tourists. Hoteliers have targeted apartments for what they see as unfair competition; while several neighborhood associations blame private rentals for driving up housing prices in central neighborhoods.

As tourists bypass hotels for residential apartments, it puts locals in the uncomfortable position of playing neighbors to an ever-changing list of tourists, said Reme Gómez, of the Barrí Gòtic neighbors association. in the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona. “People are making money and the rest of us are paying for it.”

His organization has spent the last 10 years calling for a complete ban on private tourist rentals. At the same time, Gómez saw many apartments in his own building become tourist apartments. “In many cases, apartments are used as a party venue,” she said. Rowdy drunkenness aside, there is an inherent conflict between the schedules of locals, who often work and have children, and those of tourists, she added.

“Tourist apartments force the rest of us to live in a hotel, but without any of the same conditions,” she said. “If you’re in a hotel and it’s 2 a.m. and other guests are making too much noise or throwing up in the stairwell, you can call someone to take care of it. Not here.”

Fed up and with no other recourse, many of her neighbors have moved to less touristy areas, she lamented. “We are part of what they sell, but they destroy it.”

Not everyone in town agrees. Last week, 200 Airbnb hosts in Barcelona took to the streets to defend their right to rent out their property, arguing that it offers the chance to earn extra income.

A recent study commissioned by Airbnb found that 75% of site hosts in Barcelona earn an income at or below the average income in Catalonia. More than half of hosts surveyed said the extra income from Airbnb helped them stay in their listings.

The study also calculated that the site generated 128 million euros of activity in Barcelona and helped spread this wealth throughout the city by pushing tourists to more diverse neighborhoods.

On Monday, Airbnb expressed disappointment with the Catalan government’s decision. “Barcelona must remain at the forefront of innovation,” the company said in a statement, adding that the government’s decision to impose a fine “will hold the city back.”

The company is considering its legal options, but has promised to continue working with policymakers in Barcelona and Catalonia “to develop sensible rules to ensure people can share the house they live in”.

The fine against Airbnb is the Catalan government’s second shake-up to the sharing economy in recent months – in June it announced fines of up to €6,000 for drivers who use ride-sharing app Uber.

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