The European parliament is pressing ahead with EU legislation to better monitor holiday rentals through websites such as Airbnb, Booking and Expedia, with legislation expected to pass by the end of the year
Short-term rentals booked on these websites now represent around 25% of tourist accommodation in the European Union, according to EU data.
Last year, 13 cities including Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona called for urgent EU action, arguing that long-term rentals were increasingly being converted into short-term tourist accommodation causing soaring prices and more problems for residents.
Several cities and countries have also tried to regulate the phenomenon, for instance setting a maximum number of days for which an apartment can be rented or requiring hosts to register or obtain a licence, as Amsterdam has done.
To enforce rules, however, authorities need access to relevant information from the websites, such as the location of the property, the identity of the host, the number of guests and the duration of stays, and currently there isn’t a Europe-wide legal basis for that.
Last November, the European Commission proposed EU rules for sharing such data, including a common registration procedure for short-term rental properties for the countries that require it. The websites will also have to automatically share the information with local authorities.
That plan has now been backed almost unanimously by the European parliament’s internal market committee. The final regulation is expected to be adopted by the end of the year, after which EU countries will have 18 months to adapt their registration systems.
“We listened to the cities and to people living in regions with a lot of tourism and especially over-tourism,” said Dutch GroenLinks MEP Kim Van Sparrentak, who is leading the negotiations.
“They have called upon us to make sure that when there are authorisation schemes in place, the cities will be able to actually enforce these rules. The cities felt they didn’t have a gripe on the amount of tourists anymore … it became a free for all and the platforms were deciding how many tourists there would be.”
A Booking.com spokesperson told Dutch News: “We have always supported transparent regulation in the short-term rental space, as it creates clear guidelines for all players and a more consistent experience both for accommodations and customers.
“To that end, we collaborate openly with local governments and have processes in place to ensure that listings have and display their required registration numbers.”
Disproportionate local rules
Airbnb said it had “led our industry in calling for an EU-wide approach to regulation that is more clear, simple and consistent across the bloc.
“We have worked with individual authorities on smart rules, including France, Greece and the Netherlands; we also see that disproportionate local rules exclude many Europeans from the opportunities offered by hosting”.
According to Airbnb data, the EU has more Airbnb hosts than any region in the world, the vast majority have one listing and the typical EU host earned just under €4,000 via the platform in 2022.
In May, the Netherlands’ highest administrative court said Amsterdam council was wrong to ban holiday rentals in three districts in 2020.
The city introduced a holiday rental permit scheme in July 2020, with the requirement to register each visit with the city and an annual limit of renting out a private home for 30 nights a year.
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