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Short-term vacation rental giant, Airbnb, could be facing the guillotine in the French capital. Officials have proposed a potential short-term rental ban that would be a major blow to the San Francisco-based company; especially considering Paris is the largest tourist market in the world. A recent estimate places some 65,000 Parisian homes listed on the Airbnb Paris website, making it the most popular city across the globe for renting a short-term apartment.
The push to outlaw Airbnb is primarily headed by Communist Party representative Ian Brossat, an elected member of the Paris city council, the Deputy Mayor, and the head of housing for the city. Brossart’s main concern is the increasing rent throughout the city center is impacting areas that have been historically residential and therefore is forcing some to relocate. This leaves vacated apartments and homes vulnerable to be swooped up by those using the rooms for short rentals.
Brossart furthers his claim by saying he wants to prevent Paris from becoming an “open-air museum.”
The young, charismatic politician recently told La Parisien, “Airbnb threatens the soul and identity of a number of neighborhoods… If we do not regulate Airbnb we will no longer have inhabitants in our city centers… Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?”
Airbnb has not hesitated to counter the threat of removal with a strong statement of their own: “This scheme would steal opportunities from thousands of middle-class families… but while the Deputy Mayor uses his time in office to clamp down on opportunities for local families and write books that champion the views of the hotel lobby, Airbnb is building a platform that 1 in 5 Parisians use to travel the world, boost their income, and afford rising living costs in their communities, where housing capacity has failed to meet demands for decades.”
While the ban would largely wipe Airbnb from the map in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Arrondissements (districts) — the main tourist hubs — the booking site has already faced the implementation of a number of regulations in recent years. In response to 20,000 homes being transformed into homestays in a five-year span, Parisians who rent their homes are now required to register their locations. Those who don’t or haven’t, are fined. Brossart is hoping to extend these fines from hosts and landlords to the actual rental platform, and to companies like Airbnb. French law now also forbids Paris residents from renting their homes for 120 days or more in a single calendar year.
However, this issue is not unique and Paris joins a list of influential cities working to limit the scope of the rental platform.
Last year, Barcelona distributed $700,000 worth of fines to Airbnb for unregistered listings, thanks to a new 100-man task force who search the city for unlawful units. New York City is additionally emphasizing a state-wide law disallowing rentals for less than 30 days. Elsewhere, Berlin reversed their complete outlaw of short-term rentals but have ruled to limit homes being rented for only 90 days of the year. Even Airbnb’s home city, San Francisco, has instituted restrictions.
Brossart has conceded that new laws will only impact entire home rentals. Renting rooms inside of full units, via Airbnb, will be allowed to continue. However, his crusade shall proceed while Airbnb, and other short-term rental sites, will continue to battle the “stigmatization” of their services.