Barcelona sanctions roommate sites Airbnb and Homeaway

Banners against tourist apartments hang from balconies as people walk past them in the Barceloneta district of Barcelona, ​​Spain, August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) – Barcelona has fined colocation sites Airbnb and Homeaway 600,000 euros for advertising and renting apartments to tourists without permits, the Catalan regional government said on Thursday.

The fine was imposed by left-wing Barcelona mayor Ada Colau as part of a crackdown on unregulated tourism in the city, where home-rental websites allegedly market apartments without listing them on the market. Catalan tourism register.

Capital of the northeastern region of Catalonia in Spain, Barcelona is famous for its Belle Epoque architecture, museums and nightlife.

This isn’t the first time the city has fined San Francisco-based Airbnb, one of the fastest growing start-ups in the so-called ‘sharing economy’ valued at around $25 billion. of dollars.

Barcelona Council reported that Airbnb and Homeaway were repeat offenders having illegally advertised 3,812 and 1,744 properties respectively. Nine additional rental sites are also expected to face fines of up to 30,000 euros for failing to comply with regional tourism laws.

“It should not be possible for thousands of apartments to operate without permits, illegally, without paying taxes and at the peril of neighboring residents,” Colau said Thursday on a Catalan radio station.

Cities such as Berlin, Paris and Barcelona claim that tourist home-sharing sites deprive locals of apartments to rent permanently and drive up the prices of homes left on the market. Barcelona has seen a huge increase in tourism and attracts around 27 million visitors a year.

Airbnb said it was saddened by the decision and would appeal.

“Less than a month ago we met with officials and Airbnb pledged to work together in the best interests of the city. Airbnb is part of the solution in Barcelona,” Airbnb’s Catalan division said Thursday. in a press release.

Editing by Sonya Dowsett and Toby Chopra

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