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EU capitals want greater control over short term rentals, despite drop in tourism

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EU capitals want greater control over short term rentals, despite drop in tourism
Copyright  Eric Risberg/ AP
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Some of the EU's major cities want more control over the continent’s short-term rental market, despite a fall in tourism.

The industry has witnessed a dramatic fall in business because of the coronavirus pandemic, but that hasn't stopped local leaders from wanting to keep these numbers low, in order to improve the lives of local residents.

Mayors from Paris and Berlin are among some of these capitals that want to see change, which is aimed largely at online short-term rental platforms, such as Airbnb.

Prague's mayor, Zdeněk Hřib, said earlier this year that property owners in the city centre would be banned from leasing out their flats, apart from when they officially lived there and were vacating it temporarily. Any tourist who wished to use Airbnb, for example, would be restricted to renting a single room from somebody still living in the property.

Femke Halsema, the Mayor of Amsterdam, has warned that the city will be “extremely cautious” when the time comes for tourism to be properly revived.

And a great deal of this is to try to mitigate the negative effects of tourism.

An apartment is to live in, not to have hotel guests in. That’s what we have hotels for
Albert Eefting
Housing Programme Manager for the City of Amsterdam

“People are complaining a lot about the fact that it disturbs the neighborhood and their lives, and it is also a great danger for the shortage of housing we have in Amsterdam. We don’t want apartments - residential apartments - turned into hotel apartments. An apartment is to live in, not to have hotel guests in. That’s what we have hotels for,” Albert Eefting, Housing Programme Manager for the City of Amsterdam told Euronews.

“I think every city in Europe has a restriction on the number of nights...it differs from city to city how many nights, but it's important that there is a restriction on the number of nights that can be rented out. But they [Airbnb] should know how many nights are rented out and, all that information, the platform knows very well because they control the booking system - we don’t,” Eefting added.

In December last year, the European Court of Justice declared Airbnb an online platform, rather than a real estate company, which essentially meant it didn't have to abide by housing laws.

But the EU Commission will publish new proposals later this year, named the Digital Services Act, aimed at better relegation by "strengthening the Single Market for digital services and foster innovation and competitiveness of the European online environment".

Many locals in Amsterdam do want to see change too, describing the housing market as difficult and expensive because they have to compete with large companies that buy up the apartments for Airbnb or other short-term rental organisations.

Airbnb, however, claims it is working with cities across Europe, but many people feel it has not gone far enough and officials in Amsterdam, and elsewhere, are determined to change that.