Paris threatens Airbnb with court over breach of new rules

Paris threatens Airbnb with court over breach of new rules
The city of Paris is continuing its offensive against Airbnb with a threat to sue the online rental platform if it fails to remove ads for properties whose owners have not registered with local authorities.

City hall has written to Airbnb and its rivals Homeaway, Paris Attitude, Sejourning and Windu to tell them to remove from their website any property which has not been registered in line with new rules brought in on December 1, deputy mayor Ian Brossat said.

If they fail to comply, “we will take the matter to the relevant jurisdiction, in this case the Paris high court,” he said.

The city has singled out 1,000 ads for rental properties on Airbnb which have not been registered and which fail to display the registration number in their ads, and around 100 each on the other rental sites.

Like a lot of big tourist cities, Paris has stepped up its initiatives to crack down on renting out properties to tourists illegally, which is threatening the country's hotel sector and encouraging real estate speculation.

The new rules target landlords flouting France's 120-day legal limit set for renting out primary residences.

It is believed it could also put an end to tenants putting their apartments on Airbnb without the permission of the owners.

Around 11,000 properties have now been registered in Paris, but that is only about a fifth of the total, according to Brossat, who is Mayor Anne Hidalgo's deputy in charge of housing.

Paris, the world's third-most visited city, is one of Airbnb's top markets, with some 65,000 homes listed.

Another 35,000 are available on rival platforms.

Airbnb has come under heavy scrutiny in France, where tax authorities are tightening the noose around homeowners who fail to declare their rental income for tax purposes.

Earlier this month, the government summoned Airbnb's local managers to demand answers over a system allowing homeowners to be paid onto a prepaid credit card – a mechanism suspected of facilitating tax avoidance.