Paris vs Airbnb
It's "baguettes at dawn" as the row between the city of Paris and online home rental company Airbnb escalates ...and it looks like Paris might win.
What's been happening?
Paris officials are taking Airbnb to court claiming more than 43,000 homes listed on the site are unregistered with the French government. The city already restricts homeowners to renting out their homes for no more than 120 days a year, but if the ruling goes in their favour, up to 84% of Airbnb's Paris rentals could be removed from the site.
Paris has been warning of possible legal action since December, when it became clear that the site wasn't removing delinquent renters or those who don’t register online for a mandatory tax ID. Officials already fine Airbnb anywhere from $1,200 to $6,200 per home per day for listings that don’t have a tax registration number.
The deputy mayor for housing, Ian Brossat, told Le Parisien, "Airbnb does not respect the law ... (Airbnb) has not made the slightest effort and has even explicitly refused to withdraw the ads." According to Brossat the company paid out $1.6 million in fines last year—and has spent $603,000 so far this year.
Airbnb have responded in a statement to AFP by saying "The regulation of holiday rentals in Paris is complex, confusing, and more suited to professionals than individuals. We encourage Paris to follow the path of other cities such as London, Berlin, and Barcelona, with whom we have worked efficiently on common-sense measures to promote responsible furnished tourist rentals.”
June 12th is the official verdict day, with a Paris victory looking likely after similar regulations were introduced in San Francisco. That ruling forced Airbnb to pull more than 3000 rentals (about 50%) from the site. All future stays for hosts who hadn't registered for city approval were also cancelled.
What does it all mean?
Travellers will no longer be able to book accommodation which has been removed, and Paris Airbnb accommodation choice will be enormously reduced.
More alarmingly, as happened in San Francisco, people with existing reservations will probably have their bookings cancelled, and they may not be able to contact their hosts after June 12th. The recommendation is that if you have an upcoming reservation at an Airbnb in Paris, message your host to confirm they've got a tax ID.
If you're considering booking an Airbnb in Paris for after June 12th, we'd recommend checking that the host has a tax ID, or don't book until the verdict has come through.
Although I wouldn't advocate tax avoidance or illegal rentals, I am a big fan of Airbnb - I love living and experiencing a city like a local. And I've had some fantastic positive experiences in Airbnb places all over the world, from London and Oslo to San Francisco (before the ruling came in), LA and Kuala Lumpur.
I have also stayed at an Airbnb in Paris - a charming little duplex apartment in Le Marais, right in the heart of the city. It had a stone archway with tiny door which opened up onto a pretty little communal courtyard, from which my apartment door led off. It was a very short walk to Notre-Dame, and only half an hour from the Eiffel Tower. And it summed up everything I love about Airbnb: a small but comfortable place I'd chosen, so I knew what to expect; very close to everything I wanted to see in the city; more authentic and individual than a hotel; private with no formal check-in or check-out to worry about; the possibility of being able to cook if I wanted; a cake and sweets left by the host for my arrival; and, more than anything, the ability to properly relax and forget that I'm a traveller while I'm there.
If you haven't created an Airbnb account yet, you can use this link to get a £25 credit towards your first stay.