City of love shows none as it stings Airbnb for $20m

Airbnb faces a multi-million-dollar fine over alleged illegal adverts for properties in Paris.

The short-stay platform has described as “inefficient and disproportionate” the French capital’s rules for Airbnb-style lets, following claims by city authorities that the company has breached regulations over advertising limits for properties.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has signalled Airbnb could be fined up to 12.5 million euro ($20 million) for flouting rules which the platform claims are so stringent they may be in breach of European Union standards.

Under French law, homeowners in Paris can only rent their properties on short-term rental platforms for up to 120 days in a year. The owners must register the business with their local municipality and adverts must display the registration number.

Inspections conducted by the Paris municipality found that at least 1,000 ads posted on Airbnb’s site didn’t abide by the rules, Hidalgo said.

“We can’t accept that Airbnb and others don’t respect the law,” she told the Journal du Dimache. “Our control inspectors have listed a first batch of 1,000 illegal ads, which could be fined 12,500 euros each.

“The goal is to trigger some electroshock and to end these uncontrolled rentals which taint some Parisian districts.”

An Airbnb spokesperson told Bloomberg the terms set by city hall “are inefficient, disproportionate and against European regulations”.

The platform claims it has “already implemented adapted measures, with several touristic short-term rental platforms, to help Parisian hosts rent their homes in compliance with European rules”.

“We hope to be able to work with all concerned players toward solutions that are really suited to French cities and their inhabitants,” the spokesperson said.

France is covered under EU consumer rules for booking platforms, such as transparent pricing information, which dictate the behaviour of operators. But a number of jurisdictions have tightened laws further in the face of price increases for long-term rentals and a shortage of housing stock perceived to be driven by a proliferation of short stays.

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