Court overturns ban of three Amsterdam districts on Airbnb rentals – TechCrunch
A ban by Amsterdam authorities on homeowners from offering their properties for vacation rental in three central areas of the popular tourist city was overturned after a court ruled it had no legal basis .
Municipal authorities had responded to concerns about the impact of tourism platforms like Airbnb on the quality of life of residents.
An update from the city’s website says that from tomorrow it will be possible for landowners to apply for a vacation rental permit in the three neighborhoods where vacation rentals were completely banned since July 1 of the last year.
The city authorities write that they are studying the court decision and will update the page “as soon as more information is known”.
Amsterdam authorities took the step of banning vacation rentals in the neighborhoods of Burgwallen-Oude Zijde, Burgwallen-Nieuwe Zijde and Grachtengordel-Zuid last summer after a consultation process found broad support among residents for a ban.
Authorities said the strong growth in tourist rentals is having an impact on residents’ quality of life.
It also previously introduced a permit system to control vacation rentals in other areas of the city – which limits rentals to (currently) a maximum of 30 nights per year and for a maximum of four people per rental.
Another condition of the permit states that: “Your guests [must] does not cause any inconvenience.
Following the court ruling, this permit system will also operate in the three central districts.
The city’s ban on vacation rentals in central neighborhoods has been challenged by an association (Amsterdam Gastvrij) which represents the interests of owners who rent their properties through Airbnb and other platforms. They had argued that the The Housing Act 2014 did not provide a legal basis for a vacation rental ban.
The Amsterdam court agreed, writing in its judgment that “a permit system cannot contain a total ban.
“Anyone who fulfills the permit conditions is in principle eligible for a permit. A total ban is a major infringement of the right to property and the free movement of services and will only be considered a justified measure in very exceptional circumstances ”, he added.
An Airbnb spokesperson told us the company was not involved in the process to challenge the ban but the spokesperson insisted on underlining the result.
However, the court verdict leaves room for the city to amend the legislation to add new conditions to the permit system that could include a “quality of life” consideration (which it does not currently do).
The court also suggests the possibility of introducing a quota system with a night criterion in existing legislation, as another way to use the permit system to manage the quality of life. He further suggests that municipal authorities could impose residential (rather than tourist) purposes for houses via a zoning plan. There are therefore alternative ways to Amsterdam officials to be explored as a political tool to limit activity on Airbnb et al.
At the same time, the court ruling highlights the challenges European cities face in trying to regulate the impacts of rental platforms on areas such as housing availability (and affordability) and broader quality issues. of life for residents facing overtourism (not currently an issue, of course, given ongoing travel restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic).
In recent years, a number of major tourist cities in Europe have expressed public frustration with vacation rental platforms – writing an open letter to the European Commission in 2019 which called for “strong obligations legal for the platforms to cooperate with us in registration programs and in providing rental data by home which is advertised on their platforms. “
“Cities need to protect the public interest and eliminate the negative effects of short-term vacation rentals in a number of ways. More nuisance, a feeling of insecurity and a ‘touristification’ of their neighborhoods is not what our inhabitants want. Therefore, (local) governments should be given the opportunity to introduce their own regulations according to the local situation, ”they also wrote, urging EU policymakers to support a reform of the rules.
Since then, the Commission has announced a limited data sharing agreement with the main vacation rental platforms, saying it wants to encourage the “balanced” development of peer-to-peer rentals.
Last year, the Dutch government urged the Commission to go further in accessing data on vacation rental platforms – pushing for a provision to be included in a planned major update to the rules pan-European encompassing digital services, aka the Digital Services Act (DSA).
The DSA proposal, which is currently passing through the EU co-legislative process, is largely aimed at standardizing the processes of tackling illegal goods and services – it could therefore have implications for holiday platforms in areas such as data sharing when it comes to illegal vacation rentals. (i.e. when a property is advertised without a permit required).
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