Amsterdam city council is to use digital investigation techniques to continue their crackdown on illegal hotels through sites like Airbnb, the city confirmed today.
Beginning in April, local authorities will ‘scrape’, or automatically collect content from, Airbnb’s booking database. Officials are looking for landlords who no longer live in their homes, rent multiple properties to tourists, rent for over 60 days per year, or to more than four people at once.
Alderman for housing Laurens Ivens called the technique ‘a new and innovative method to combat illegal housing rental…with this new method of digital investigation we change our approach from reactive to proactive’.
No brakes on growth
Amsterdam has changed its policy on short-term holiday rentals several times. The council planned in 2013 to stop temporary rentals altogether as they cut down on the number of houses available to locals, adding to the city’s housing shortage.
A year later, the council decided that short-term rents were fine, as long as tourist tax was paid and the process was carried out ‘safely and honestly without causing nuisance’.
Last year, as the number of properties for rent rose to over 10,500, the Parool wrote ‘there are no brakes on the growth of Airbnb in Amsterdam’.
Lack of transparency
Airbnb currently provides no data to local authorities to assist them in ensuring that hosts follow the law. Currently, the council in Amsterdam sees no problem with this arrangement.
‘As part of our agreement with Airbnb we accept certain terms and conditions. We accept that Airbnb withholds its clients’ data. We think co-operation is better,’ said Janine Harbers, a council spokesperson.
However, this data retention policy places the responsibility on the council. This year, measures against illegal hotels will cost the city around €1million.
Whether agreeing to Airbnb’s terms and conditions is worth €1million is currently up for consideration. ‘We are going to hold a meeting and evaluate our agreement with Airbnb next month,’ Harbers told DutchNews.
Airbnb said in October it expected to hand over €5.5m in tourist tax to Amsterdam for last year.
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