Airbnb: Fines surge in crackdown on owners in Paris

Fines imposed against owners renting their Paris apartments out on Airbnb surged more than tenfold in the first half of 2017 thanks to more rigorous monitoring, city authorities said Friday.

Airbnb: Fines surge in crackdown on owners in Paris
Thirty-one owners of 128 units were slapped with a total of 615,000 euros ($723,000) in fines for renting them out for more than the city limit of 120 days per year, city hall official Ian Brossat told AFP.
“These numbers do not reflect an explosion in the number of rental offers but in the effectiveness of the monitoring” by a team of 25 agents deployed by the city, Brossat said.
“We are pleased to see that the courts have a heavier hand than before,” he added.
Airbnb: Paris set to force all users to register rental properties
The maximum fine for the offence doubled in November to 50,000 euros.
Paris is one of Airbnb's top markets, with some 65,000 sites listed.
Another 35,000 are available from similar online platforms.
The city has slapped limits on the short-term rental of apartments and rooms as they compete with hotels, encourage property speculation and reduce the housing available to residents.
The practice of rentals on Airbnb and rival websites has become so pervasive that some neighbourhoods have nearly emptied of permanent residents.
'Cash machine'
“You can't turn your lodging into a cash machine and yourself into a speculator,” Brossat told French radio France Inter.
Airbnb meanwhile said the fines “are far from being representative of the Airbnb community in Paris, where the average host rents out their lodgings 33 times per year.”
Airbnb warns homeowners on its website they must comply with local laws, and said it had proposed a solution last year to the city which would have automatically limited rentals to 120 nights per year.
“This would have simplified monitoring without stigmatising the large majority of hosts who abide by the rules and count on Airbnb to make sure the ends meet at the end of the month,” it said in a statement.
France also wants to address a tax situation that allows Airbnb to avoid paying French taxes on rentals in France.
Since bookings and payments on French rentals are run through the group's European headquarters in Ireland, it escapes paying taxes on those to the French treasury.
The Paris daily Le Parisien reported Monday that Airbnb paid less than 100,000 euros in French taxes last year when more than 10 million French people used the site.
On Wednesday, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said France would team up with Germany to address the loophole because efforts by the EU Commission and the OECD were “taking too much time”.
Le Maire said Paris and Berlin would come up with a joint plan to fix the situation — also going after online platforms like Google, Amazon and Facebook — by mid-September.
“Airbnb has the right to operate in France. But we have the right to demand from Airbnb and all the other digital platforms a fair contribution to the French treasury,” Le Maire said.


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.