-Ten European cities have asked Parliament and the new EU Commission to take concrete action in support of their efforts to regulate the uncontrolled proliferation of short term rentals.
-Citizens associations in Florence and Venice are asking their Mayors to promptly join the appeal of their European counterparts.
[What follows is a press release by Gruppo 25 Aprile, followed by the statement of the ten cities -Ed.]
Florence and Venice, 21 June 2019
Recent news reports inform us that the Administrations of ten European cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Cracow, Monaco, Paris, Valencia and Vienna) have released a joint statement addressed to the European Parliament and the EU Commission requesting the power to regulate platforms that advertise short-term rentals on the web in such a way as to compel them to cooperate with local and national governments and to comply with the current laws regarding registration, making information about landlords available, and meeting tax obligations.
The initiative is in response to the non-binding opinion expressed by the Attorney General of the European Court of Justice, which is that, according to the regulations and directives of the EU, Airbnb should be considered a provider of digital information rather than a traditional real estate agent. If this status was recognized by the Court, online platforms for short-term rentals would be relieved of any obligation to comply with laws introduced by various European cities to regulate short-term rentals and contain the tourist gentrification of entire quarters and cities.
The undersigned associations and individuals, committed to the defense of the cities of Art and of those who live there, call on the Mayors of Florence and of Venice, whose residents are facing these same problems, to promptly join the appeal of their European counterparts.
- Associazione Progetto Firenze
- Associazione 25aprile Venezia
NB: To add your name to the appeal, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Official Press Release from the Ten Cities:
European cities believe that homes should be used first and foremost for living in. Many cities suffer from a serious housing shortage. Where homes can be used more lucratively for renting out to tourists, they disappear from the traditional housing market, prices are driven up even further and housing of citizens who live and work in our cities is hampered.
Cities must protect the public interest and eliminate the adverse effects of short term holiday rental in various ways. More nuisances, feelings of insecurity and a ‘touristification’ of their neighbourhoods is not what our residents want. Therefore (local) governments should have the possibility to introduce their own regulations depending on the local situation.
For this, we need strong legal obligations for platforms to cooperate with us in registration-schemes and in supplying rental-data per house that is advertised on their platforms.
Platforms like Airbnb have exact rental data and they provide numerous services to guide the supply, simplify the process and influence the prices. Yet, according to the AG’s opinion, they would have no obligation at all to provide municipalities with information about the rentals to help them prevent violations of local or national regulations, for instance on the maximum number of days allowed. Enforcement would be for the authorities concerned alone, which have to identify anonymous addresses (data held by platforms), which places an excessive burden on public funds.
Where platforms claim that they are willing to cooperate with the authorities, in practice they don’t or only do so on a voluntary basis.
One thing must be clear: A carte blanche for holiday rental platforms is not the solution.
We will continue to address the housing shortages in our cities and continue to ensure that our cities remain livable. We sincerely hope for the cooperation of the new European Parliament and the incoming European Commission.
Further background information
In a case at the Regional Court in Paris, involving AIRBNB Ireland, the investigating judge decided to refer to the EU Court of Justice to ask for a preliminary ruling on whether the services provided in France by AIRBNB Ireland, benefit from the freedom to provide services, laid down by the so called E-commerce Directive of the European Union.
The Advocate General’s opinion on this to the Court (published April 30, 2019) is affirmative to this question.
This will have, we fear, one major implication: Homes needed for residents to live and work in our cities, will become more and more considered as a market for renting out to tourists. We think that cities are best placed to understand their residents’ needs. They have always been allowed to organize local activities through urban planning or housing measures. The AG seems to imply that this will simply no longer be possible in the future when it comes to Internet giants.
The threats and risks for the social and livable configuration of our cities are evident.