Lisbon wants to get rid of Airbnb once the pandemic is over

Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina has pledged to “get rid of Airbnb” once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

In a text written in English for the British Independent, Medina admits that a third of the city center has been lost to vacation rentals, with incalculable social consequences.

New Renda Segura (Secure Income) launched in the Portuguese capital aims to enable key workers to return to the city center after being overpriced due to a tourism boom.

The program works as follows: owners fearing that their apartments will remain empty can ask to rent them to the municipality, for a minimum period of five years. The city in turn is responsible for finding tenants, through an affordable housing program for low-income youth and families.

Rents are capped at levels between 450 euros per month for a T2 to 1,000 euros for a generously sized house. For landlords, the income from these fixed rents may be lower than what they might have earned by renting to tourists, but it is at least risk-free and hassle-free, and exempt them from both property taxes and more. -values.

The goal is to sign 1,000 rentals this year. So far, they have received 177 applications.

“We have paid a social price,” said Medina. Critical workers and their families are increasingly evicted as Airbnb-style vacation rentals have taken over one-third of downtown Lisbon properties, driving up rental prices, emptying communities and threatening its uniqueness .

Protesters demonstrate against evictions and rising rents in central Lisbon in September 2018.

In a statement, Airbnb said it “helps local families stay in Lisbon and 60% of local hosts say the extra income they earn from accommodation helps them pay the bills and support themselves. of their family “.

The Medina plan does not mean “we do not want tourism or do not need visitors to return to Lisbon as quickly as possible”, he adds. “It’s just time we did things differently and visitors will ultimately benefit.”

The Portuguese capital is not the only European city hoping to dampen Airbnb’s prospects.

Ian Brossat, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing, said in May that COVID-19 and the drop in short-term rentals that followed offered the city “a unique opportunity to move from properties previously listed on Airbnb to conventional rentals and ensure that they are again beneficial to Parisians.

The French capital is considering buying properties bought as an investment and let exclusively for short-term rentals from owners hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Amsterdam prohibits short-term vacation rentals in three central districts from July 1. Since the start of the pandemic, the Dutch city has seen 21% more rental housing in the market compared to the same time last year, an increase attributed to the decline in Airbnb’s business.

For the full text of Medina’s article Click here

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