Paris is beyond fed up with Airbnb

Home to many unregistered Airbnb hosts.
Home to many unregistered Airbnb hosts.
Image: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
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The City of Love has lost any love for Airbnb.

Paris is threatening to take home-sharing company Airbnb to court if it doesn’t take down hundreds of listings for apartments whose owners have failed to register with local authorities, AFP reports:

Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s deputy in charge of housing, Ian Brossat, told AFP the city had written to five holiday rental sites—Airbnb, HomeAway, Paris Attitude, Sejourning and Windu—to demand they remove properties whose owners have defied the city’s new registration requirements.

If they do not comply the city will take legal action, he added.

As of July, Paris was Airbnb’s biggest city, with 65,000 homes. That same month, the city council voted to require hosts to register with the town hall before listing an apartment for a short-term rental on Airbnb or similar website, beginning Dec. 1.

The city council vote followed a report in January from the Paris mayor’s office that blamed Airbnb for population declines in the heart of the city. Airbnb “has been a catastrophe for central Paris,” 1st arrondissement mayor Jean-François Legaret told Le Parisien at the time. Paris lets people rent out their primary residence for at most 120 days a year.

According to AFP, only 11,000 properties have been registered with Paris so far, less than a fifth of total listings. Paris officials have reportedly flagged around 1,000 Airbnb ads that are violating local regulations, plus a hundred or so each on four competing platforms. Owners who fail to register their apartments or exceed the legal limit can be fined up to €50,000 (about $59,000).

Airbnb couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Last month, ahead of the registration rule kicking in, Airbnb said it would automatically limit hosts in central Paris to renting their apartments for 120 days a year, in line with the city’s cap. Paris officials were unimpressed with this gesture, as Airbnb only volunteered to enforce the 120-day limit in the first four arrondissements, which don’t include tourist-heavy neighborhoods like Montmarte or the Left Bank.

“The law says illegal listings should be removed in all the arrondissements,” Brossat tweeted on Nov. 14. “Last I heard, the law of profit doesn’t trump the laws of the Republic.”

Airbnb, founded in 2008, used to flout home-rental regulations aggressively. In 2016 and 2017, the rules started catching up with it, from Paris to Barcelona to Santa Monica, California.

One concern for Airbnb is that these regulatory scuffles are starting to scare hosts and guests away from the brand. In November, analysts at Morgan Stanley noted a “surprising” slowdown in new Airbnb users in the US and Europe, citing increased privacy and safety concerns.

“Typically consumers become more comfortable with emerging technologies as awareness/testing/adoption grow,” Morgan Stanley’s analysts wrote. “This doesn’t appear to be happening for Airbnb.”