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.

Paris threatens Airbnb with court over breach of new rules

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.



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.