Now is the perfect time to crack down on Airbnb

Airbnb has been the threat of big cities for years. The service has been credibly accused of rising housing costs when units are converted to short-term rentals, while residents complain that Airbnb damages their communities. Across Europe, governments have restrictions and regulations imposed on the service with varying degrees of success, as illustrated by the fact that almost a quarter of registrations in London are said to be in violation of the city’s ninety-day limit as of May 2019.

At the start of the year, governments continued to fight against the rental platform, with eight European cities having appealed a favorable decision by the EU who discovered that the business did not need a real estate agent’s license. The French tax authorities have been demanding data investigating hosts for tax evasion, while Scotland passed new laws allow local authorities to regulate short-term rentals.

But then the pandemic struck, almost killing the travel industry overnight and firmly shifting the balance of power from Airbnb to governments.

Some Airbnb hosts smoke to the lack of support they have received from the business, but there is little sympathy for the people who have benefited from the withdrawal of housing from the rental market for years. After bookings plummeted to 96% in some cities, the company dismissed 1,900 workers and reduce non-essential expenses.

As it became clear that this would be a protracted crisis and travel would not pick up quickly, short term rentals began to return to the long term rental market. In Dublin, for example, there was a 64% increase in rental announcements in March, while rents lowered by their largest amount in a decade in April. Similar trends were observed in Australia, Canada, and through Europe. After claiming for years that its service wasn’t increasing rents, Airbnb was definitely wrong.

European cities have made it clear that they will use their newfound power to crack down on Airbnb. Scotland’s decision to give grants to companies to some Airbnb hosts angered some Edinburgh advisers, but they hope to use the data collected in the process to strengthen the app. Meanwhile, Lisbon has been hailed for creating a new scheme to bring more Airbnbs back into the long-term rental market, but it exempts homeowners from property taxes and capital gains. It seems like a generous treat for the people who have helped escalate the housing crisis in the city. Fortunately, other governments are proposing a more radical approach.

In Paris, Ian Brossat, the deputy mayor in charge of housing, declared that the city heard “take back controlAnd “could buy some of these apartments and put them back on the traditional rental market.” After being re-elected earlier this month, Mayor Anne Hidalgo has also pledged to Referendum to limit the maximum number of days per year of short-term rental. This should take place in November.

Likewise, although Ireland’s new government is a right-wing coalition, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is making plans for the state to buy Airbnb properties. He Recount TheJournal.fr, “If there are opportunities for the state to buy, at reasonable prices, so that we can house people and then they can safely rent them from the state, then we should. to do. “

After years of battling Airbnb with regulations that it almost always finds a way to get around or ignore, the prospect of Paris and Ireland taking over Airbnb units should not only be welcome, but residents of other cities should demand that their governments do the same. Cities should use the advantage they gained from the pandemic not only to ban entire homes from listing on Airbnb – if not the entire platform – but to make properties that were listed on those platforms owned. public.

These homes could be quickly transformed into social housing for the homeless in shelters, temporary accommodation or who stay on the street. But tackling Airbnb should only be part of a larger strategy to ensure housing meets the needs of residents, not investors. Rents may be temporarily down in many cities, but they are unlikely to stay that way without more serious action.

With crises of expulsions looming United States and Great Britain, it takes not only continued protections to keep people in their homes, but also a major investment in social housing that would not only provide people with safe housing, but create jobs in a cratered economy. The call by council leaders across the UK for the construction of 100,000 new social housing for key workers is a great place to start.

After years of making life harder for people in cities around the world, the pandemic has placed Airbnb at the mercy of governments and its investors – and its power isn’t coming back anytime soon. Cities have a rare opportunity to evict the business, take over units that existed only to serve tourists, and ensure that any rentals in the future are properly regulated. Governments would be wrong to waste it.

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