Airbnb avoids regulation as a real estate agency after EU court ruling

19 Dec 2019

Image: © Daniel Krasoń/

Airbnb has avoided having to face stricter regulation after the Court of Justice of the European Union said it is not a real estate company.

Airbnb can continue to call itself an “information society service” after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled in its favour at the expense of France’s association for professional tourism and accommodation (AHTOP) which represents 30,000 hotels and syndicates in France.

Last April, an advocate general to the CJEU advised judges involved in the case to rule in Airbnb’s favour. AHTOP originally brought the case to the Luxembourg court claiming that Airbnb should face the same regulations – and be charged the same taxes – as real estate companies.

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With its European operations based out of Ireland, Airbnb has been under pressure from major cities across Europe – including Paris – to limit its reach over claims the company’s service is upending neighbourhoods.

In a statement to The Guardian, Airbnb said that the court decision allows it to “move forward and continue working with cities on clear rules”.

“We want to be good partners to everyone and already we have worked with more than 500 governments to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax,” it said.

AHTOP originally claimed that Airbnb was in violation of the Hoguet Law. This states that any legal entities that assist in the sale or letting of real estate on a regular basis must hold a government licence, including both property managers and real estate agents.

What saw the court rule in the company’s favour was its structured lists that connects users with hosts in addition to “a tool to facilitate the conclusion of contracts”. As an intermediary, the company is classified as an information society service under the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000/31.

Quentin Michelon, a spokesperson for AHTOP, said that the organisation will continue its efforts to enforce more regulation against the company.

“We filed our complaint in 2015, and France has since introduced new regulations that apply also to Airbnb. Eventually Airbnb is going to be regulated in France, just not as a real estate agent at this point,” he said.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic