The center of Prague fights against Airbnb

Residents of the central district of Prague have started a petition to prevent the spread of Airbnb properties in the heart of the city. Among other things, residents of the Old Town of the capital of the Czech Republic complain about noise and damage to historic buildings.

“We have a feeling of utter hopelessness,” said Ivan Solil, district councilor responsible for security, crime prevention and public order. “In our homes there are hundreds of drunken people who not only disturb the peace but are a source of potential danger. The council has no legal way to deal with the problem because only parliament can change the law. This is why the people of Prague decided to start a petition.

It is currently estimated that there are between 3,500 and 5,000 central Prague apartments listed on shared accommodation websites, including Airbnb. More than 1.79 million people stayed in such apartments in 2017, 61% compared to 2016.

“Airbnb has agreed to pay municipal taxes,” explains Solil. “It’s a lot of money but it doesn’t help us. Even though we eventually agreed on a limited number of nights per year, apartments can be rented out, as is the case in Amsterdam or London, room share offers will just show up on other platforms and we will come back to the beginning.

Throughout central Prague there are a lot of buildings where only one or two original tenants remain, resulting in depopulation of the whole neighborhood. In fact, in addition to limiting the number of overnight stays, the city council intends to give each district the power to regulate shared accommodation, in particular to be able to prohibit it in certain districts and in certain types of properties.

To gain more control over the financial situation of these apartments, the Czech Republic’s tax collection agency recently compiled a list of people renting property through Airbnb and started checking whether they are meeting their obligations. The tax administration plans to impose penalties of up to 40 percent on those who fail to do so. Meanwhile, the Prague City Council can also charge Airbnb hosts a fine of up to Kroner 500,000 for not registering for local taxes.

But paying taxes is not the only concern, and it is not only Czech citizens who are complaining. According to the Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHRCR), Prague hotel occupancy rates fell 4.4% year-on-year in 2017 and the boom in shared accommodation services, especially Airbnb, is on the rise. the origin of this decline.

“The problem is not only whether these services are properly taxed, but also the gradual decline of permanent residents in central Prague, which is gradually turning into a large hotel without clear business rules, without customer protection,” but also protection of local populations ”, declared the AHRCR in a press release.

The Czech Institute for Economic Research (CETA) recently published a study on the residential housing market in Prague, highlighting bureaucratic obstacles and high demand as the only factors responsible for the current low availability of housing in the capital. Airbnb is not to blame.

“Limited housing supply and tighter mortgage conditions have changed the situation and consumers are forced to rent homes in places they can afford, which don’t always coincide with where they want to live. “, commented analyst Pavel Peterka.

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