Paris officials have been carrying out “raids” on apartments in the 1st and 6th arrondissements on Tuesday and Wednesday – both hugely popular areas for tourists. The raids follow a similar crackdown in the Marais six months ago.
The aim has been to catch out landlords who are trying to get rich by offering their flat for more than the legally designated 120 days a year.
The Town Hall’s housing chief Ian Brossat stressed that the aim wasn't to pick on “owners who rent their apartment one or two weeks a year when they go on vacation”.
“This is targeting professionals who illegally rent their homes all year round, and who often buy an apartment solely with the intention of transforming it into a tourist spot,” he told Liberation newspaper.
And there are many landlords who play by their own rules. A recent survey found that across France, 44 percent of the homes advertised on Airbnb are permanently available for rental.
But perhaps not for long. Those who offer more than their share of nights face fines of up to €25,000, but officials are looking into hiking this fourfold to €100,000.
Parisians are expressing a growing frustration with the never-ending stream of Airbnb tenants carting luggage up the stairs of their apartment buildings.
“We are getting more and more complaints from residents,” Jean-François Legaret, the mayor of the 1st arrondissement, told France Bleu.
City officials are also well aware that the ever-profitable properties are making life tough for Parisians who want to find their own lodgings so they can live in the city.
These housing problems add to the already expensive Paris property market, which is notoriously difficult to crack – especially for renters.
Airbnb, which was launched in 2008 and now has some 40 million users worldwide, has also raised the hackles of traditional hotel chains who see it as a rival that flouts tax laws.
The company recently agreed to pay a tourist tax to Paris from each of its bookings in the city.
A study in November found that Paris is the world's second biggest Airbnb market, with 3.9 million travellers using the service to visit in the past year. The director of Airbnb for France claimed this contributed €2.4 billion to the French economy.