Ten cities are moving its complaint against Airbnb — from a Paris regional court to the European Court Justice — to form a preliminary ruling on the tech giant’s current practices in Paris.
The preliminary ruling on Airbnb in Paris will be reflective to the other nine remaining cities who issued the complaint including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Valencia, and Vienna.
These cities are rallying against Airbnb’s expansive growth within the European state that has contributed to the increasing rates of homelessness, prices on rent, and the continuing “touristification” of neighborhoods.
The issue also comes along with the United Nation’s special report on housing saying that “laws meant to protect the most vulnerable people in France had failed,” Euro News reports.
“Evictions that are happening throughout [Paris], in a variety of different contexts, are not happening in compliance with international human rights law,” Leilani Farha told Reuters.
“People are not even accessing the most basic emergency services,” she claimed, adding calls to a national emergency shelter hotline are often not answered.
However, a recent unbinding opinion by Maciej Szpunar, one of the EU Court Justice’s advocates general, indicated that Airbnb remains to be a business that’s free to operate across the European Union. In the advocate general’s opinion, claims filed by a French tourism association indicating that French laws on traditional real estate providers should be imposed upon Airbnb was rejected.
“We believe cities are best placed to understand their residents’ needs,” they said. “They have always been allowed to regulate local activity through urban planning and housing rules. The advocate general seems to imply this will no longer be possible when it comes to internet giants.”
Furthermore, Szpunarsays that Airbnb can be described as an information society service, given that the company has argued that its commercial activities of providing a platform to connect potential guests with hosts who can offer short-term accommodation, cannot be regarded as real estate brokerage.
In other words, Airbnb states that it has no direct relation to the growing number of homelessness in Paris nor the increasing rental rates, therefore, the company cannot face the same laws imposed on traditional apartments and the like.
However, France is home to Airbnb’s largest market after the US. Additionally, Paris is its biggest single city market, with about 65,000 homes listed. In other parts of the EU, Airbnb currently has more than 18,000 listings in Amsterdam and Barcelona, and 22,000 in Berlin.
The idea that revolves around the trend of short-stay rooms is that landlords make more money compared to allowing rooms rented for the typical French resident. In numbers, landlords can rent a room to tourists for $150-$300 a night. With Paris’ massive annual tourist influx looking for cheaper accommodations on Paris’ premier streets, landlords could easily earn $3,000-$5,000 a month—heavily outweighing the average rent for residents at only $1,000-$1,5000 a month.
In return, landlords are opting to rent out rooms and houses over to tourists rather than the residents. For those who do though, rates have drastically gone up trying to match those earned when rooms are rented via Airbnb.
“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.,” the 10 cities said in a statement.
Furthermore, they said that “cities must protect the public interest and eliminate the adverse effects of a short term holiday rental in various ways.” They expressed that Airbnb has brought “more nuisances, feelings of insecurity and a ‘touristification’ of their neighborhoods” that their residents don’t want.
But in light of the whole situation, the cities are not wishing that EU Court Justice to completely absolve Airbnb but only to make it follow rules that govern other real estate brokerages.
“The cities are not against this type of holiday rental,” they said. “Tourism provides a city with income and jobs. They do think they should be able to set rules.”
“We need strong legal obligations for platforms to cooperate with us in registration schemes and in supplying rental data for the properties on their platforms,” they said. This would allow Airbnb to be more regulated because as of the moment the company is not obliged to submit details about its renting data to the EU government.
“One thing must be clear: A carte blanche for holiday rental platforms is not the solution.”