Tuesday 20 August 2019

‘Treat breaking Airbnb rental rules as an economic crime,’ MPs say

Photo: DutchNews.nl

MPs from the right-wing VVD and the Socialists will present a joint motion to parliament on Tuesday evening which will brand breaking the rules for holiday rentals on websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com an economic crime, the Parool said on Tuesday.

The motion, which can count on widespread support in parliament, would make it possible for officials to go to court to claim the illegal earnings back through the likes of Airbnb, the Parool said.

The move has been welcomed by Amsterdam housing alderman Laurens Ivens who has been campaigning for tougher action against holiday rental sites which, he says, do not do enough to stop landlords breaking the rules.

‘We already have the option of tackling people who rent out their homes, but that is not the case for the rental websites,’ Ivens said.

Earlier this month, Ivens accused Airbnb of not doing enough to combat illegal letting and has threatened not to renew an agreement the city has had with the platform since 2013.

Agreement

Some 20,000 homes were on offer on the rental site this year, a rise of 500 on 2017, despite council efforts to bring holiday rentals under control.

The city’s agreement with Airbnb on stamping out illegal rentals expires at the end of this year, and Ivens says the American company must do more.

Amsterdam home owners can rent out their property through holiday rental platforms for no more than 60 days a year and to no more than four people at one time. Landlords also have to register each let with the city council.

Next January the maximum period for rentals will be cut to 30 days and officials are also looking at bringing in total bans in the busiest parts of the city.

Risks

People who rent out their homes while breaking the rules should be tackled because they calculate the current fine in with their risks, the MPs say.

‘We want the minister to treat this sort of fraud as an economic crime,’ VVD MP Daniel Koerhuis told the Parool. ‘That will allow us to take back the profits these criminals make. That is the only thing they understand.’

Parliament will debate how to deal with landlords who abuse the housing system on Tuesday evening.

Airbnb told DutchNews.nl that unlike other rental sites it does all it can to prevent people renting out homes for more than 60 says.

‘Airbnb has also collected more than €17m in tourist tax and continues to work for responsible holiday rentals,’ the company said. ‘We have a robust system to detect and prevent fraudulent activity and we continually evaluate our systems.’

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