With restrictions gradually eased due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many European cities are trying to revive the tour sector.
At the same time, there is also a goal to curb a phenomenon that has caused big problems in recent years – short-term rental housing, mainly offered through online platforms such as Airbnb.
Hoteliers are not the only losers
Many tourists often resort to short-term rentals because they are often cheaper or offer a slightly different kind of experience than, for example, traditional hotels.
The losers from this growth in the popularity of short-term rentals are primarily hoteliers. Hotels suffer primarily from the competition of non-professional operators who work in this area in parallel with various companies that are engaged in short-term rentals, following all the rules.
But it’s not just hotels that are losing. In many cities, critics say, the rise in temporary rents has led to a shortage of housing for residents or an unjustified increase in rental or purchase prices.
European cities seek to resolve an unpleasant phenomenon
European cities have been trying to regulate this negative phenomenon for several years. For example, the Paris authorities recently adopted a new decree – they introduced a maximum limit for apartments for short-term rent on certain streets or in areas that are considered the most popular and, as a result, are under price pressure.
The introduction of such a regulation was prompted by the demands of various urban organizations and associations, which opposed the fact that some areas of the city looked like “sleeping houses” for tourists; at the same time, the measures were opposed by Airbnb, which called them “illegal”.
Italian cities are also considering similar restrictive measures. Last March, the mayors of Florence and Venice presented the government with a “Reset List”, which, in addition to measures to promote tourism and support hoteliers, includes possible rules governing the rental of apartments.
Among the proposals put forward on the list is the obligation that each owner cannot rent more than two units of real estate within the same municipal area. Moreover, the maximum lease term for this type of lease should be 90 days a year.
In the opinion of the authorities in Venice and Florence, in any case, the regulation of short-term lease issues requires “clearer and more definite national legislation”, which is currently lacking.
Barcelona, Amsterdam and Lisbon are working on solutions
Another example is Barcelona, where negotiations are underway to finalize a plan that will only allow homeowners to rent rooms for more than 30 days. This will be a permanent rule introduced in August last year and is only the latest of the interventions undertaken by the authorities of the Catalan capital to curb this phenomenon.
On the other hand, the Amsterdam administration is thinking about what decisions to take after a court in March ruled illegal a ban on short-term rentals in the historic city center. The ban was introduced last year for several reasons, including limiting concerns for local residents.
To try to tackle the problem in the longer term, Lisbon Mayor Fernando Medina has proposed a program that directly engages the local government in favor of longer leases while guaranteeing income for homeowners.
The plan stipulates that the local administration rents houses, pays up to 1000 euros per month to the owners, and then transfers them to residents who need them. Under the program, launched in 2019, the municipality was supposed to designate and manage a total of 1,000 homes, but only 284 applications were received in 2020.