French cities strive to ruin Airbnb’s summer – POLITICO

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PARIS – As France heads for summer vacation, its mayors are turning 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.

โ€œWe want to take the opportunity of COVID to confirm the downward trend in tourist rentals. We now have proof that Airbnb has an impact on housing, โ€Ian Brossat, housing deputy to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, told POLITICO.

While the COVID crisis has effectively emptied large urban areas of tourists, cities in Europe are happily considering living on less Airbnb.

In France, the second largest market for the American platform, Airbnb concentrates more and more in rural areas – where the platform is welcome with open arms by local mayors – to limit its dependence on heavily regulated cities. Wednesday, the company said stays in French rural areas represent 45% of bookings 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.

On Thursday, a Paris court ruled that the company should pay a fine of 8 million euros to the city of Paris for allowing postings without a registration number on its platform. On the same day, Airbnb announcement that all guests wishing to rent their apartments in the French capital will need a registration number; otherwise, clients will not be able to book their accommodation. The requirement will be rolled out in other French cities by the end of the year.

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

The south represses

In June, four southern cities adopted or threatened to adopt new restrictions on tourist rentals to control the amount of housing coming onto the market in the short term.

After years of lobbying from 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 prevent people from buying homes to put them on the short-term rental market. In the long run, all listings on platforms like Airbnb will require a registration number, as is already the case in large cities like Paris.

Marseille – second city in France – agreed to ask the larger metropolitan area to also limit the number of second home rentals to one and make it more difficult to convert housing into short-term tourist accommodation.

The mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi, a longtime enemy of Airbnb, who earlier this year tried without success to crack down on the platform, said his city would limit permissions to avoid a massive influx of tourists over the summer. The mayor of the Corsican capital Ajaccio also reflected new regulations.

In Brittany too, 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 not known 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 Abritel and Airbnb, said the new push would likely not impact the summer season of this season. year, and the effect will become clearer. in six months to a year.

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

More soon

French cities are not yet done with Airbnb.

Last month the government released a long-awaited presidential decree this makes it more difficult for owners to convert commercial properties like offices and warehouses into tourist accommodation.

Since 2015, 89,000 square meters of retail space in Paris have been transformed into hotel accommodation, including short-term rentals and traditional hotels, according to Le Parisien.

Cities that have implemented registration number obligations will be able to effectively veto such conversions. But first, they will need to define the exact rules for which properties can be converted and vote on them. In Paris, Brossat plans a city council vote by the end of the year, so that the rules apply in 2022.

Paris also wants to control the number of days during which owners can rent their main residence, and be able to ban tourist rentals in certain regions. To this 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 not known whether the Paris push will be successful. Unlike the city council of the capital, neither the National Assembly nor the Senate have a left majority, and the government is not in favor of lowering the 120-day limit for renting a residence. main.

Not to mention that the Parisians themselves are satisfied with the current rules.

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