Paris mayor declares new war on Airbnb to stop city turning into ‘museum’

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has gone to battle once again with home-sharing giant Airbnb, saying that she wants to fine the company a record sum of €12.5 million as she fights to prevent the French capital being turned into a "museum".

Paris mayor declares new war on Airbnb to stop city turning into 'museum'
Photo: AFP

It seems the war between the City of Paris and Airbnb is far from over. 

The rules around rentals on the home-sharing platform in Paris have already been tightened but the mayor isn't convinced they've go far enough to stop the city becoming “an open-air museum” which is reserved exclusively for tourists.

“Yes to the sharing economy. Yes to Parisians who rent their apartment a few days a year to have a small additional income. No to those who make money preying, destroying residential housing and risking making Paris a museum city.”

Hidalgo has accused the home-sharing platform of breaking the law by listing 1,000 homes that have not been officially registered with the City of Paris. 

“We can not accept that Airbnb [and others like it] do not respect the law,” the mayor said in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. 
Since December 2017, anyone wanting to rent their French home on an online platform must register it and display a number on their ad in accordance with the Elan Law (Loi Elan).
The system allows authorities to ensure the property is not being rented for more than 120 days a year — the maximum duration a person can rent out their main residence — and also ensure they are paying their taxes.
French hotels sue Airbnb claiming 'unfair competition'
Photo: AFP
But many homeowners are flouting the rules and continue to advertise properties they have not declared.
Hidalgo wants to hold Airbnb to account and, according to the law, that means the company must pay a fine of €12,500 for each unregistered listing. 
But the mayor doesn't want to stop there — Hidalgo is also calling for a considerable reduction in the number of nights people are allowed to rent out their property. 
“I have nothing against Parisians who rent their home a few days a year to make some cash,” said the mayor. “The problem is those who own multiple properties who rent apartments all-year-round to tourists without declaring them, and the online platforms, which are accomplices, welcoming them. “
This isn't the first time Paris City Hall has taken umbrage with Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms.
Paris — the world's third-most visited city, according to a Mastercard ranking — is one of Airbnb's top markets, with some 65,000 homes listed and another 35,000 are available on rival platforms.
France to end 'law of the jungle' by cracking down on undeclared Airbnb listings
Photo: AFP
As a result, City Hall has faced complaints from hoteliers as well as locals who believe that holiday rentals are fuelling property speculation and pricing them out of the market.
“Home-sharing platforms are good because they allow people to increase their purchasing power and visit cities at a lower cost,” Julien Denormandie, the junior minister responsible for housing, told France 2 television back in March 2018.
“But there are rules. It's now the law of the jungle.”
However Airbnb has said it is already respecting the rules. 
“Airbnb has already implemented appropriate measures to help Parisian hosts rent out their homes in accordance with the applicable rules,” said a spokesperson for the platform.

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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.