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TOURISM

Paris wins court challenge over restrictions on Airbnb rentals

City authorities in Paris won a final court challenge on Thursday over rules that restrict the use of properties for short-term holiday rentals in a victory likely to encourage other European cities.

Paris wins court challenge over restrictions on Airbnb rentals
Photo: AFP

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.

“Total victory for the City of Paris against Airbnb and fraudsters who rent their properties illegally,” deputy mayor Ian Brossat, who is in charge of housing, wrote on Twitter, saying it ended five years of court battles.

 

Europe's top court, the European Court of Justice, had also ruled in favour of Paris last September, but it requested French courts to assess some of the specifics of the regulations.

Aiming at tackling housing shortages, 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.

Rules for owners of second homes are far more restrictive.

In order to rent a furnished property for less than a year to holidaymakers, owners 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, an onerous and time-consuming task.

All of the these elements, including the compensation mechanism, were ruled legal on Thursday.

The decision means the city will be able to resume its legal claims against 420 renters who have been fined on average €50,000 each for breaking the rules.

Paris was at the forefront of efforts by many European cities to limit the effect of Airbnb on the rental market.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, many property owners in sought-after areas opted to rent their space on a short-term basis to tourists rather than to locals, while the high profits were seen as driving up property prices.

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TOURISM

Tourism minister: Book your French ski holiday now

France’s ski resorts will be open for business this winter, tourism minister Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne has promised - but no decision has yet been taken on whether a health pass will be required to use ski lifts.

Skiers at a French Alpine resort
Photo: Philippe Desmazes / AFP

“This winter, it’s open, the resorts are open,” Lemoyne told France 2’s 4 Vérités programme.

“Compared to last year, we have the vaccine,” he said, adding that he would “invite those who have not yet done so to [book], because … there will soon be no more room.”

And he promised an answer ‘in the next few days’ to the question of whether health passes would be required for winter holidaymakers to use ski lifts. “Discussions are underway with the professionals,” he said.

The stakes are high: the closure of ski lifts last winter cost manufacturers and ski shops nearly a billion euros. 

This year ski lifts will remain open, but a health pass may be necessary to access them. The health pass is already compulsory for après ski activities such as visits to bars, cafés and restaurants.

COMPARE The Covid rules in place at ski resorts around Europe

Many town halls and communities which depend on winter sports have found it difficult or impossible to make ends meet.

“It’s time for the French mountains to revive,” Lemoyne said, pointing to the fact that the government has provided “more than €6 billion” in aid to the sector.

Winter tourism professionals, however, have said that they are struggling to recruit for the winter season.

“Restaurant and bars are very affected,” by the recruitment crisis, one expert told Franceinfo, blaming a lack of urgency from authorities towards the winter holiday industry.

“We are all asking ourselves what we should do tomorrow to find full employment in the resort,” the expert added.

Post-Brexit visa and work permit rules mean that ski businesses have found it difficult to recruit Brits for short-term, seasonal positions.

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