Paris is suing Airbnb over illegal rental advertisements

11 Feb 2019

Airbnb app. Image: TPOPhoto/Depositphotos 

The French capital is taking legal action against Airbnb, potentially costing the company more than €12.5m.

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced on 10 February that the city would be suing Airbnb, due to the listing of 1,000 allegedly illegal rentals on the platform. According to Reuters, Hidalgo made the announcement in French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

She said the legal action aims to “send a shot across the bows” and put a stop to rental practices that “spoil some Parisian neighbourhoods”. Under French law, Parisian homeowners can rent out their properties on platforms such as Airbnb for up to 120 days yearly. The ads must also include a registration number to help avoid properties being rented for longer periods.

An issue with certain Airbnb users

Hidalgo said that while she did not have a problem with people who rent their home a few days of the year, she said those who treat Airbnb letting like a business are an issue. “The problem is the multi-owners who rent all-year-round apartments to tourists without declaring them, and the platforms, accomplices, who welcome them.”

In 2018, France passed a law that makes the act of Airbnb and firms posting illegally punishable by fines of €12,500 per posting, which is what the city will be using against the platform in court.

Growing criticism

The company has been facing growing scrutiny in major cities, with people criticising it for driving up property prices and contributing to housing shortages in certain areas.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said that it had taken steps to help Parisian users of its site comply with EU rules, but added that the regulations in Paris were “inefficient, disproportionate and in contravention of European rules”.

After the US, France is the second-largest market on Airbnb and Paris is its biggest single market. Approximately 65,000 homes in Paris are listed on the platform.

Last October, Ireland moved to regulate the use of short-term rental platforms by landlords to try and relieve some of the immense pressure on the country’s rental market. The new proposals are expected to come into effect in June of this year.

Airbnb app. Image: TPOPhoto/Depositphotos 

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects