Amsterdam, other EU cities, urge Brussels to take action on Airbnb data

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Eight European cities are writing to the European Commission to demand new rules for holiday rental platforms.

Laurens Ivens, deputy mayor of Amsterdam, announced at the end of a two-day holiday rental conference that the cities involved will demand platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com are legally obliged to share data with regulators, and new ‘quality rules’ mean hosts cannot be anonymous.

A spokeswoman for Amsterdam city told DutchNews.nl that it is spending €4 million a year in policing casual holiday rentals, including scraping data from the web to see whether hosts are breaking the current rules of a maximum 60 days per year.

‘We will ask the commission to look at quality rules for platforms, so that a platform cannot only put anonymous hosts on its site but it is clear who is offering houses,’ said Ivens to journalists.

Share data

‘It’s crazy that all sorts of products have quality rules, so why not ensure we know who is offering a house? If you want to have a platform operating in Europe, you must make it known who the landlord is – and then in Amsterdam we can decide if it is for 30 days or in Paris, for 120 days. It can be done via a registration number on the site, for instance.’

The second demand from the cities, including Barcelona, Madrid, Vienna, Paris, Reykjavik, Krakow and Brussels, is that platforms share data with them, on demand.

‘Platforms can now avoid sharing data with us, and we find that crazy,’ added Ivens. ‘The data includes who the landlords are and who the renters are: I find this very relevant, but the moment I ask platforms for this, they refuse on the basis that it is protected by European e-commerce rules.’

He added that, particularly with the European General Data Protection Regulation which comes into effect in April, this kind of requirement needs to be dealt with on a European level.

Addressing the conference delegates in English at the end of the second annual event, he said: ‘We have the same problems and we have focused in these sessions on enforcement. Tourism isn’t new for us, but the volume of tourists is. Of course all these tourists bring in a lot of money but they also bring a lot of disturbance.

Abuse

‘The constant noise of suitcase wheels on the pavement outside, residents losing their sense of community because of all of the strangers in their building, and large groups of tourists in too-small apartments bothering neighbours – that has to stop, in every city.’

The Socialist Party alderman added, building on a theme he has already talked about: ‘An additional problem is that illegal holiday rentals are reducing the number of properties available on the housing market. Above all, it is my responsibility to ensure that residents in Amsterdam can rent or buy properties at reasonable prices and that Amsterdam stays the wonderful city it is.’

Two other cities, Berlin and London, which could not attend, will be asked if they want to sign the letter and Ivens intends to send it to the European Commission by February.

Restrictions

From next year, Amsterdam will only allow people to rent their homes for 30 days, and last year it introduced fines of at least €6,000 for illegal holiday rentals – writing to residents to encourage them to report instances of abuse.

Following local protests at the ‘Disneyfication‘ of the Dutch capital, it has also put a stop to new tourist shops on certain central streets while the government is discussing ways to spread the record 17.6 million national tourists throughout the country.

Airbnb told DutchNews.nl in a reaction: ‘Airbnb already limits the number of nights hosts can share their homes in Amsterdam and shares data on the positive impacts of home sharing. The best way to be good partners to cities is for other companies to step-up and follow our lead.’