Amsterdam to ban Airbnb in city center, allow vacation rentals

Amsterdam‘s red light district is empty of tourists because of the coronavirus. Photo: DutchNews.nl

The Amsterdam city council will ban tourist rentals in the heart of the old town and part of the canal area, and will introduce special permits for the rest of the city from July 1.

The ban will roughly cover postal code areas 1012 and 1017 and is introduced after research showed the number of tourist rentals has a major impact on residents.

“Local residents should be able to enjoy life in their own neighborhood,” said Laurens Ivens, city councilor for housing. “They already have to deal with the consequences of street tourism, so it is important that they do not run into problems in their own neighborhood as well.”

About 80% of people living in the city center face problems caused by tourism, Ivens said.

Guest rooms

The ban on vacation rentals will not apply to licensed bed and breakfast operations but will stop all other forms of rental to tourists through platforms such as Airbnb.

The city also brings in permits for vacation rentals in the rest of the city. Permits will only be granted if the property is inhabited most of the time, if the property is not rented for more than 30 days and is rented to a maximum of four people. Owners will also need to register each rental period with the city.

The fines will amount to nearly € 21,000. Officials say the new permit system will make it easier to verify that homeowners are not breaking the rules.

Court decision

The introduction of permits follows a decision by the State Council earlier this year, which said vacation rentals in the Netherlands are only technically possible with a license.

A city study shows that one in 15 properties in Amsterdam has been rented through Airbnb at some point and that there are around 25,000 listings per month for vacation rentals in the capital on various platforms.

The Hague City Council effectively bans all residents from renting out their property or a room through agencies such as Airbnb following the court ruling. He decided not to set up a licensing system.

National rules

The Hague ban will likely last until the end of this year, when the government finalizes national legislation to cover vacation rentals. These national rules will allow local authorities to require that vacation rentals be registered in areas where accommodation is scarce.

The registration number must then be included in ads on platforms such as Airbnb. But the platforms have already made it clear that they won’t force owners to include the registration number immediately, leading activists to say the legislation doesn’t go far enough. Airbnb said it would enforce the use of the number after six months.

EU rules

Acting Housing Minister Stientje van Veldhoven said late last year that websites like Airbnb could not be forced to forward information to boards for verification as it would violate guidelines of the EU who see vacation rental websites as information platforms.

Airbnb told DutchNews.nl in a statement that 95% of the listings on Airbnb are outside of these areas and help disperse tourism and spread the financial benefits throughout the city.

“We are also deeply concerned that these proposals are illegal and violate the fundamental rights of local residents,” Airbnb said. “While the town hall has been working on measures to extract income from Amsterdam residents and businesses, Airbnb has introduced effective new tools to tackle noise and nuisance which have already been well received by Alderman Ivens. “

The agency points out that a third of Airbnb owners say they need their income to make ends meet.

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