After two years of stagnation due to COVID-19, European tourism is finally enjoying its recovery after almost every single country in the continent has opened its borders to international tourists.
Yet, some of Europe’s most visited cities are facing another problem, that of a spike up in the number of short-term rentals that are leaving many locals unable to secure a home, and now are calling for legislative action to deal with short-term rentals.
The European Alliance of Cities for Short-Term Rentals has published a letter addressing this need to tighten short-term rentals, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
In this regard, the mayors, deputy mayors, and other city officials of Barcelona, Bologna, Brussels, Arezzo, Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lyon, Porto, and Florence and 12 other EU cities claim that the European Commission is abandoning the project of a legislative initiative that would regulate the way people rent their properties for short-term vacationers.
In Amsterdam, for example, short-term holiday rental listings rose from 4,500 in 2013 to 22,000 in 2017. Meanwhile, in the Lisbon neighbourhood, Alfama, more than 55 per cent of apartments are now listed under platforms as Booking and Airbnb for short-term renting.
In addition, in the centre of Florence since 2015, they have increased by 60 per cent and in Kraków by 100 per cent between 2014 and 2017.
For years, several cities throughout Europe have faced this problem of short-term rentals, as citizens complain that short-term rentals are making it difficult to rent a place for longer periods. Yet, these types of rentals are a good way to secure money for landlords with a spare room or apartment.
“Cities need help with enforcing regulations and pursuing illegal STHR [short-term holiday rental]. Currently, this is made difficult by platforms refusing to share critical information with the authorities. Therefore, access to data should be ensured to enforce the rules. Otherwise, administrative costs will substantially increase for municipalities because of litigation fees and investment in a professional capacity to check rental data in alternative ways, follow up on complaints and indications of illegal STR activity, and impose fines,” the letter reads.
However, they also increase the rental value, reduce the supply of long-term housing and cause a lot of inconveniences for the neighbours. Some authorities have responded by creating specific fees for STHR or are considering banning companies like Airbnb.
For example, in Barcelona last year, after several years of complaints from residents about constant noise, high rental prices, and a lack of apartments, the municipality announced a ban on Airbnb and rentals under 31 days.
On August 4, the business association representing the European hospitality industry, HOTREC, called on European Union countries to impose obligations on platforms and short-term hosts.
The call was made in order for the authorities to start reviewing short-term rental activities.
Commenting on the issue, the General Director of HOTREC, Marie Audren, emphasized that the tourism and hospitality sector of the EU should present a regulation that would help tackle the challenges of short-term renting.
In addition, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) previously applauded Estonia for its intelligent taxation on these types of rentals. At the same time, it praised France for its long-term investments in the community, allowing the government and residents to benefit even through hospitality.
Last fall, the EU Commission announced the legislative initiative for the regulation of short-term rentals, and after opening it for public consultation, it postponed the same several times. They may even drop it, as it doesn’t appear on the planned launch list until December 2022.