French cities are working to spoil Airbnb’s summer – POLITICO

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PARIS — As France heads into the summer break, its mayors turn the screw on short-term rental platforms.

In just a few weeks, a series of French cities have imposed new restrictions on short-term accommodation platforms like Airbnb, Abritel and – and Paris is preparing even more restrictions.

“We want to take the opportunity of COVID to confirm the downward trend in tourist rentals. We now have proof that Airbnb is having an impact on housing,” Ian Brossat, housing deputy to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, told POLITICO.

While the COVID crisis has effectively emptied large urban areas of tourists, cities across Europe look forward with joy live with less Airbnb.

In France, the second market of the American platform, Airbnb concentrate more and more on rural areas — where the platform is welcome with open arms by local mayors – to limit its reliance on highly regulated cities. Wednesday, the company said stays in French rural areas represent 45% of bookings for this summer, compared to 24% in 2019.

After a series of French cities, including the tourist hotspots of Nice, Saint-Malo and Ajaccio, officially adopted or considered new restrictions in the past three weeks, Airbnb’s rural strategy now seems more prescient.

Thursday, a Paris court ruled that the company must pay a fine of 8 million euros to the city of Paris for having authorized publications without a registration number on its platform. On the same day, Airbnb announcement that all hosts wishing to rent their apartments in the French capital will need a registration number; otherwise, customers will not be able to book their accommodation. The requirement will be deployed in other French cities by the end of the year.

Airbnb said Thursday’s decision will have “no impact” on its Paris business because the company has already implemented mandatory listing registration. Still, the company said the court’s decision was “questionable” and was considering an appeal. Airbnb declined to comment on the new local rules.

Southern Repression

In June, four southern cities passed or threatened to pass new restrictions on tourist rentals to control the amount of accommodation put on the short-term market.

After years of lobbying by the hotel industry, which sees Airbnb as a rival and a threat, Montpellier vote limit the rental of second homes to one per household, to avoid people buying homes just to put them on the short-term rental market. Eventually, all listings on platforms such as Airbnb will require a registration number, as is already the case in major cities like Paris.

Marseille – the second largest city in France – agreed to ask the greater metropolitan area to also limit the number of secondary residence rentals to only one and to make it more difficult to convert accommodation into short-term tourist accommodation.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, a longtime enemy of Airbnb, who earlier this year tried unsuccessfully to crack down on the platform, said his municipality would limit permits to avoid a massive influx of tourists during the summer. The mayor of the Corsican capital Ajaccio also thought about new regulations.

Also in Brittany, the tourist town of Saint-Malo imposed quotas on tourist accommodation, and owners will only be able to convert one accommodation for short-term rental.

It is unclear when these efforts will have the desired impact.

Dominique Debuire, president of the National Union for the Promotion of Vacation Rentals, a trade group representing platforms such as HomeAway and Airbnb, said the new push was unlikely to impact the summer season. of this year, and the effect will become clearer. in six months to a year.

Municipalities, he said, are faced “with a reasonable choice between tourist attractiveness and the satisfaction of the inhabitants of the city centers, for whom it becomes difficult to find accommodation”.

More soon

French cities aren’t done with Airbnb yet.

Last month the government published a long-awaited decree it is therefore more difficult for owners to convert commercial properties such as offices and warehouses into tourist accommodation.

Since 2015, 89,000 m² of commercial space in Paris has been converted into hotel accommodation, including short-term rentals and traditional hotels, according to Le Parisien.

Cities that have registration number requirements in place will effectively be able to veto such conversions. But first, they will need to set the exact rules for when properties can be converted and put them to a vote. In Paris, Brossat predicts a vote by the city council by the end of the year, for the rules to apply in 2022.

Paris also wants to control the number of days during which owners can rent their main residence and to be able to ban tourist rentals in certain areas. To that end, the city is pushing for amendments in a bill that aims to give more power to local authorities, which is currently under discussion in parliament.

It is unclear whether the push from Paris will be successful. Unlike the capital city council, neither the French National Assembly nor the Senate has a leftist majority, and the government is not in favor of lowering the 120-day limit on renting a primary residence.

Besides the Parisians themselves is happy with the rules in force.

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