In 2008, three roommates in San Francisco decided to charge a small sum to rent an inflatable mattress in their flat and thus have an aid to pay the high price of the city rent. It is the story of the founding of Airbnb. Today, the platform has more than 100,000 offers worldwide and every night two million people sleep in rooms that they have rented through the portal.
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The tourist rental platforms were initially intended to produce an extra profit to individuals. Today, more than ten years after the creation of Airbnb, the person who holds the ad record has up to 1,457 offers. This activity raises the price of rentals, forcing the inhabitants of the center to move to the suburbs.
New Yorker Murray Cox was one of the first to repair irregularities related to the operation of Airbnb, which has a value of 30,000 million dollars (27.6 million euros). For five years, he has been collecting data on the offers that appear on the platform and publishes them on the Inside Airbnb: Adding Data to the Debate portal (Inside Airbnb: adding data to the debate) . From the data collected by Cox it is extracted that in cities around the world infractions are committed and that, increasingly, large investors manage hundreds of rental properties that remain outside the law.
Instead of shared or individual rooms for rent, there are more and more apartments and entire houses, especially in the central and historic neighborhoods of the cities, which means that there are no long-term rental properties. Airbnb strongly protects landlord data, something that the authorities of some European cities also complain about. By not having access to the operation of the platform, they cannot know who is earning from the tourist rental and, therefore, cannot apply local legislation.
An increasing number of cities accuses the platform of having a negative impact on the real estate market. Ten European countries count on the European Union to help them. In a letter, signed among other cities by Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris and Krakow, cities ask for a European regulation that allows local authorities to exercise control over the activities of companies that, like Airbnb, modify the real estate market and contribute to A tourism too intensive.
Paris has especially strict legislation regarding tourist rental. You can only rent personal housing to tourists for a maximum of 120 days a year. The person who owns more than one home in the city must either rent it for a period of a minimum of one year to a single tenant or register it as a business premises and make the same statement as an entrepreneur. Breaking these rules can result in a fine of up to 25,000 euros.
Millions of tourists visit Rome every year. On Airbnb you can choose from almost 30,000 offers. Almost half of these are apartments and rooms for rent in the city center, and in most of them no one lives permanently. According to data from the Inside Airbnb portal, more than 60% of the offers belong to owners who have a minimum of two properties in the city, although most run more than 100. In the towns adjacent to Rome, the number of inhabitants is growing at a 10% annual rate.
Berlin is one of the cities with the strictest short-term rental regulations. Since April 2016, it is not possible to rent entire apartments, only rooms and as long as the owner of the apartment is present. Violation of the rules may involve a fine of up to 100,000 euros. On the occasion of the ban, about 2,500 apartments have returned to the traditional rental market. In 2018, this restriction was lifted and today the owners can rent the apartment of their property to tourists for short stays and other properties up to a maximum of 90 days a year. However, it is necessary to obtain a special permit from local authorities. The maximum penalty for violating the rules has increased fivefold. Probably because of the rule, the percentage of entire apartments or real estate has fallen for the benefit of the offers that correspond to the original idea of Airbnb. The number of ads is also relatively low compared to other European cities.
Translation: Irene Green Quintana