Ten European cities want EU assistance in their battle against short-term lettings website Airbnb which they consider is locking locals out of the housing market.
Many cities say the short-term holiday lettings boom is contributing to soaring long-term rents
Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux and Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Vienna have all written to EU officialdom complaining about the “explosive growth” of global short-stay lettings platforms.
The advocate general of the European Court of Justice found, in a non-binding opinion in April, that under EU law Airbnb is a digital information provider rather than an estate agent.
This definition will free them of responsibility of making their landlords comply with local regulations on holiday lets.
“European cities believe homes should be used first and foremost for living in,” the letter says.
“Many suffer from a serious housing shortage. Where homes can be rented out more lucratively to tourists, they vanish from the traditional housing market.”
The cities complain about increasing “touristification” of city districts.
“We believe cities are best placed to understand their residents’ needs,” they said. “They have always been allowed to regulate local activity through urban planning and housing rules.
"The Advocate General seems to imply this will no longer be possible when it comes to internet giants.”
Airbnb has 18,000 listings in Amsterdam and Barcelona, 22,000 in Berlin and nearly 60,000 in Paris.
Even in cities where short-term lets are restricted by local authorities, up to 30 per cent are available for three or more months a year.
Dublin has more than 6,000 Airbnb listings, which from next month will be subject to a regulatory structure for the first time whereby, in rent pressure zones, they must either be registered with the local council or apply for change-of-use planning permission.