Tenant to pay landlord €5k over illegal Airbnb subletting

In a legal first in France, a tenant in Paris has been ordered to pay damages to his landlord for subletting his flat on Airbnb without permission.

Tenant to pay landlord €5k over illegal Airbnb subletting
Photo: AFP

The judgement from a court in the fifth arrondissement of Paris will be bad news for the thousands of tenants who earn a little bit of extra income renting out their flats on Airbnb while they are away.

Most of them are breaking the law by doing it without the permission of their landlord.

And as the recent court judgement showed, it can be very costly to take the risk.

According to reports, the culprit, who was earning up €700 a week or €4,000 a month by subletting the flat in the fifth arrondissement, was ordered to pay €5,000 in damages to their landlords.

A change of the law voted through parliament in January has obliged tenants to get permission from their landlords before putting their flat on Airbnb.

But according to reports in France, it’s the first time a tenant has been ordered to compensate the landlord.

Authorities in Paris, which is the world’s number one city for Airbnb rentals, have long tried to crack down on illegal rentals on the home-sharing site.

Their focus has been on landlords who 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

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 first arrondissement, told France Bleu. 

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Local authorities in France get power to crack down on Airbnb rentals

Authorities in Paris and other French towns will be able to regulate local businesses who wish to rent property on Airbnb, according to a decree published by the French government. 

Local authorities in France get power to crack down on Airbnb rentals
This illustration picture taken on July 24, 2019 in Paris shows the logo of the US online booking homes application Airbnb on the screen of a tablet. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

The news was welcomed by authorities in Paris, who have long battled to keep a check on Airbnb and its impact on the rental market. 

On Sunday, the French government published a decree that allows the City of Paris to subject the renting of local businesses to prior authorisation. 

This decree applies to all types of offices, stores or medical offices who may be turned in holiday rentals. 

It aims to allow towns to limit the growth of rentals on Airbnb, “protect the urban environment and preserve the balance between employment, housing, businesses and services on their territory,” says the decree. 

The news was welcomed by authorities in Paris, which has been witnessing “the multiplication of ground floor business premises being transformed into holiday rentals,” said deputy mayor Ian Brossat, who is in charge of housing, in a press release

This decree which comes into effect on July 1st, “will prevent local businesses from being turned into holiday rentals,” Brossat added on Twitter.

The conditions businesses will have to meet in order to get an authorisation still have to be defined said Brossat, according to Le Figaro. But Paris aims to draft these regulations and get them voted by the end of 2021, so they can come into force at the beginning of 2022. 

Other towns allowed to apply the decree are those who have put into effect “the procedure of a registration number for furnished holiday apartments, owners and, subject to contractual stipulations, tenants of local businesses who wish to rent them as furnished holiday apartments.” 

In recent years, Paris city authorities have made tax registration obligatory for apartment owners and have restricted those renting out their primary residence to a maximum of 120 days a year.

Now if owners want to rent a furnished property for less than a year to holidaymakers, they must apply to local authorities for permission to change the registered use of the space.

They are then required to buy a commercial property of an equivalent or bigger size and convert it into housing as compensation. 

Until then, these onerous and time-consuming tasks did not apply to local businesses who only had to fill out a declaration.  

In February, France’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, ruled that regulations introduced to counter the effects of Airbnb and other short-term rental sites on the local property market were “proportionate” and in line with European law.