Top cities where Airbnb is legal or illegal

Using Airbnb, a short-term rental service that allows owners or renters to rent out properties for a side income, is a huge hit with budget-conscious travelers. For regulators around the world, however, this can be a challenge.

Among the problems that city governments and state regulators foresee with Airbnb are the possibility of upsetting landlord-tenant relationships (for example, a owner might try to evict a tenant to charge vacationers higher short-term rents). Regulators also fear a potential influx of travelers who will turn quiet residential neighborhoods into rotating hotel districts. There are also concerns about the current lack of oversight and accountability around the collection of Airbnb-related taxes and compliance with zoning statutes.

Therefore, individuals who are consider using Airbnb (either to find a room or to rent an apartment) must proceed due diligence to verify that the city in question promotes a favorable environment for Airbnb. In addition, the listing must comply with the applicable municipal codes of the city.

Key points to remember

  • Paris, Barcelona, ​​Amsterdam, Miami, and Santa Monica have some of the strictest policies regarding who can and cannot rent Airbnbs.
  • Berlin, London, San Francisco and New York have more relaxed requirements, but are still regulated.
  • Local regulations on short-term rentals are constantly changing, so check with Airbnb and your city’s statutes before listing your property for sale.


In 2018, a Parisian official, Ian Brossat, criticized house rental services for believing they displace people from the main city. Paris is the largest market in the world for Airbnb, which offers more than 60,000 apartments. Other cities like Spain, New York and Santa Monica share Brossart’s sentiments. In 2015, the government cracked down on secondary apartments in Paris specially converted as short-term rental accommodation, with officials fining offenders up to €25,000.

Since 2017, Airbnb owners in France have been required to register their accommodation and display the registration number in their listing under the Elan law. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, fearing that the proliferation of Airbnb listings in the city threatens to turn it into an “open-air museum”, announced in 2019 her intention to apply the 12.5 million fine. euros provided by law for unregistered ads.


In May 2018, Barcelona maintained its tough stance on Airbnb and other similar sites. The city asked the site to remove 2,577 ads that operated without a city-approved license or face substantial fines. Then, on June 1, Airbnb and the city reached an agreement allowing Barcelona officials access to listing data. According to CityLab, “For the first time, city officials will be able to refer to host data that specifically details where apartments are located and who their registered hosts are, which previously may have required further investigation.”

The host ID numbers will check if the linked apartments have permission. In 2016, Airbnb was fined (still unpaid and disputed) €600,000 for selling apartments without a license, after a more modest fine of €30,000 the previous year (this same fine also had imposed on the HomeAway website). Locals say Airbnb rentals have made it even harder to find accommodation in the city, and the Catalan government has gone so far as to launch a social media campaign urging tourists to speak out against illegal short-term rentals or presumed illegal.

Despite challenges in some cities, there have been more than 400 million Airbnb registrations worldwide over the past decade.


German officials blame Airbnb for rising rents and housing in Berlin shortagespassed a law in 2014 banning short-term rentals that have not received explicit permission from the Berlin Senate. Potential landlords could apply for a permit to rent out their properties for periods of less than 60 days, but authorities pledged to reject 95% of such applications under the 2014 law.

However, in March 2018, the city assembly overturned this law. The decision means that homeowners can rent out their primary residence without time restrictions after obtaining a permit from municipal authorities and rent out secondary residences for up to 90 days a year.


In February 2015, Amsterdam announced a cooperative effort with Airbnb in which the city would levy a tourist tax on rentals while Airbnb informed potential hosts of all rules and regulations. However, in 2018 Amsterdam limited short-term rentals to 30 days per year, halving its previous limit. As of April 1, 2021, the Airbnb host must obtain both a registration number and a permit for a vacation rental in Amsterdam. There are also strict rules on how you can operate your property, subject to heavy fines for violations.


Londoners interested in renting out their properties on Airbnb have benefited from an amendment to the city’s housing legislation (passed by parliament in March 2015), allowing landlords to rent out their house, apartment or rooms. friends up to three months a year.

Those living outside the Greater London area can rent out their primary or secondary properties for up to 140 days a year. Airbnb is booming in London. A study by property services company Colliers suggested that Airbnb’s market share in London tripled in 2017, from 2.8% to 7.6% of overnight stays.

New York

New York has passed laws prohibiting rentals in New York for less than 30 days without the host present. This means for Airbnbs that shared houses, apartments or rooms are still allowed, but anyone wishing to comply with the law and book an entire unit should stay longer than 30 days.

San Francisco

San Francisco has adopted a policy similar to that of New York: Airbnb rentals are only permitted if hosts are full-time residents, rentals are capped at 90 days, and all hosts must register with the city. Offenders are liable to a fine of $484 per day for first-time offenders and $968 per day for repeat offenders. However, despite these provisions, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that only a fraction of Airbnb hosts had actually complied with the new law.

Surveys in 2019 found that up to half of people applying for short-term rental permits in San Francisco lied on their applications, mostly by falsely claiming to be a resident of the home they were renting. Additionally, as in other cities, Airbnb is facing growing criticism from housing activists who accuse the site of reducing the already limited supply of housing.

santa monica

This city actually deleted 80% of its Airbnb listings in put in place the strictest regulations on short-term rentals in the United States The Southern California city said it had been boosted by the overall increase in housing prices and the dwindling supply of housing. The new regulations, which have been in effect since June 2015, require anyone listing on Airbnb in Santa Monica to live on the property during the tenant’s stay, register for a business license, and collect a 14% tourist tax users who will be payable to the city.

In 2019, the city of Santa Monica reached a settlement with Airbnb in which the company agreed to remove illegal short-term listings from its website. In 2019, the city had just 351 short-term rental properties, most of which are listed on Airbnb.


The number of cities with Airbnb listings is spread across 191 countries.

Why is Airbnb illegal or restricted to certain locations?

Some localities have banned or imposed restrictions on Airbnb hosting for several reasons. The first is that it takes away tax revenue normally paid to renters (although now Airbnb is working with cities to collect these taxes), or takes business away from traditional hotels or bed and breakfasts. Other places argue that Airbnbs are not regulated like hotels and therefore may not be health and safety code compliant. Still, others complain that short-term guests don’t respect common spaces in multi-unit buildings, create noise and disturb residents.

How does Airbnb make money?

Airbnb’s primary sources of revenue are fees charged to guests and hosts for bookings.

Is Airbnb a public company?

Yes, Airbnb was IPO in December 2020 and trades on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol ABNB.

The essential

Airbnb is no stranger to controversy. Proponents argue that the service allows travelers to rent more affordable accommodation while opponents accuse Airbnb of hurting housing prices, supply and the neighborhood quality of life. Cities have a wide range of approaches to managing service, so any potential Airbnb host should know where their city falls on that spectrum. Otherwise, they risk being hit with a severe sentence or, if they are tenants, even evicted from their residence.

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