Airbnb’s Regulatory Agreement with London and Amsterdam Marks Drastic Policy Shift | Airbnb

Airbnb, the startup that has fought tooth and nail to avoid regulation in cities around the world, appears to have turned its stance on regulators around in a sweeping policy shift.

In an agreement with London and Amsterdam announced this week, the company agreed to take responsibility for controlling the limits on the number of days per year that a complete unit can be rented through its system, making it the first company to short-term rental to cut such a deal.

Some analysts greeted the move with cautious optimism, hoping the short-term rental giant could finally get its regulatory problem under control before its IPO.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will be responsible for ensuring that their hosts meet local limits for short-term rentals, unless the hosts have the appropriate licenses – 90 days a year in London, 60 a year in Amsterdam.

Even more than Uber, Airbnb has struggled with local regulatory environments as it has grown. He’s been engaged in protracted battles with city officials in San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Barcelona and dozens of other cities – often because he’s been blamed for gnawing away at the building stock – and falls into legal gray areas. in places like Japan. In the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, critics say Airbnb is responsible for the total drying up of the long-term rental market.

In Australia, where a construction boom means cities care less about building stock depletion, regulators are more open to short-term rentals, according to Julian Ledger, CEO of the Youth Hostel Association of Australia.

But even there the business is controversial. The New South Wales state government is preparing a response to a parliamentary inquiry into Airbnb earlier this year. Public opinion, Ledger said, was “mixed”.

Dutch MEP Mei Li Vos, a proponent of regulating the “sharing economy” in the Netherlands, welcomed the Amsterdam agreement. “I think this is a good step forward,” she said. “Some very stubborn people and illegal hotel hosts will persist, but it’s a good thing Airbnb is finally listening to complaints from its neighbors.

“This is a positive development for Airbnb, because the more certainty there is around Airbnb’s structure in cities around the world, the less uncertainty there is about what is legal and what is not. is not, [the better]Said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University who studies the sharing economy.

Sundararajan found the move particularly encouraging in the face of Airbnb’s $ 30 billion valuation and a possible IPO – although others have suggested the move was some sort of Potemkin village move designed to reassure investors. fearful before a possible offer.

Not all Airbnb supporters were thrilled. Andrew Moylan, executive director of the R Street Institute, a libertarian think tank, was concerned about the precedent set by the deal.

“Airbnb and other short-term rental services have fought these existential battles across the world, and it worries me as this is the first time I’ve seen a company make a concession of this magnitude by accepting essentially to serve as the extension of law and code enforcement on behalf of the cities in which they are to operate, ”he said.

Opponents of the company, however, have expressed skepticism about the possibility of trusting Airbnb to self-control. “It’s kind of like the fox is watching the chicken coop,” said Joe LaCava, a community leader and past chair of the San Diego Community Planners Committee.

Judith Roth Goldman, co-founder of Keep Neighborhoods First, a popular Los Angeles-based coalition that opposes Airbnb-style rentals, said Airbnb “will do anything to keep its $ 30 billion IPO valuation.”

“Let’s see if Airbnb follows through as agreed,” Goldman said. “Only time will tell, but in all honesty I can say that we hope to be optimistic about their commitment to comply – but we are skeptical given their track record. “

Dale Carlson, co-founder of Share Better San Francisco, a lobby group pushing for greater regulation of Airbnb, said the move was a good thing “only if it’s real,” but said his experience of the company made him doubt that they would follow the agreement in good faith.

“Don’t buy the Airbn-BS” was his advice in London and Amsterdam. “These guys are really shameless. “

  • This article has been edited to indicate that Keep Neighborhoods First is based in LosAngeles, not New York.

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