Paris seeks fines for Airbnb over short-term rental offences

PARIS • The municipality of Paris has asked a French court to urgently fine Airbnb and two other small companies for unauthorised short-term letting, said an official with the city's administration.

A hearing at a Paris court is scheduled for June 12.

Mr Ian Brossat, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of housing, told the Le Parisien newspaper yesterday that Airbnb and other competitors had failed to take down listings lacking official registration numbers.

The registration number, he said, helps ensure the companies do not rent out properties for more than the 120 nights a year allowed.

Mr Brossat said the municipality had asked for fines ranging from €1,000 to €5,000 (S$1,618-S$8,090) per day and per advertisement.

The French capital is also suing the smaller German website Wimdu for the same reason, he added.

"This disappointing decision is primarily detrimental to Paris' inhabitants," an Airbnb spokesman said in an e-mailed statement.

She added that Airbnb was keen to work with the Paris municipality regarding how best to regulate this area. Airbnb matches people wishing to rent out all or part of their homes to temporary guests, via a website.

In November last year, Paris capped the number of days an individual can rent out his home as a short-term let at 120 per year.

Since December, home-owners have been required to display a registration number on their ad listings that the authorities can check to see if they are sticking to that 120-day limit.

France is Airbnb's second-largest market after the United States. Paris, one of the most visited cities in the world, is its biggest single market, with around 65,000 homes listed. Airbnb called on Paris to follow the lead of other European cities in deciding how to regulate its rentals.

Berlin previously had one of the strictest regimes for regulating the site in Europe, but announced last month that it would allow residents to rent out their main home without time limitations.

"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," Airbnb said.

Earlier this month, a Singapore court fined two Airbnb hosts a total of $60,000 each for unauthorised short-term letting.

Several cities throughout the world have expressed concerns that platforms such as Airbnb might stand as unfair competitors to hotels.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2018, with the headline 'Paris seeks fines for Airbnb over short-term rental offences'. Print Edition | Subscribe