In late 2019, Airbnb was involved in a dispute with France, who raised an issue with its operational status, believing that the company was operating as an estate agent without a licence.
It raises the question whether the holiday let industry will become centre of attention within the UK in the coming years.
So, here's what you need to know about Airbnb, plus the view on holiday letting plans moving forward.
What was the case about?
France accused Airbnb of being an estate agent in disguise, breaching the Hoguet law. This law states that individuals or companies who assist in transactions involving real estate must hold a licence. However, Airbnb argued that it was protected under "electronic commerce" laws created by the EU.
What was decided by EU courts?
The courts ruled in Airbnb's favour, based on the following:
Airbnb doesn't set rent or a rent cap for landlords advertising on their site
Property owners can advertise on various sites, not solely with Airbnb
Essentially, Airbnb falls under "information society service" as it simply allows property owners to advertise their properties and doesn't intervene with things such as rental price.
Airbnb & Holiday lets in Scotland
Local councils in both Bristol and Scotland have taken proactive steps to regulate the growth of holiday lets.
Scotland plans to introduce licensing schemes for Airbnb-type lets from 2021 that will require planning permission. These schemes will look at cracking down on things such as anti-social behaviour, littering and overcrowding of properties.
The Scottish government will also review taxing holiday lets in the near future to ensure that they are making an appropriate contribution to local communities and services.
Airbnb & Holiday lets in Bristol
Nicola Beech (Labour MP), is responsible for spatial planning and city design in Bristol, and sympathises with the younger generation stuck renting. A motion has now been passed with cross-party councillors to increase powers to regulate and to levy business rates on holiday lets.
The labour MP claims that owning a second home to use as a holiday rental in Bristol is severely impacting younger people's ability to gain their first home.
Now that councils are reviewing the impact of these holiday lets against the housing crisis and a rise of anti-social behaviour, it is clear that there will be big changes ahead for the holiday-let market.
What are Airbnb doing to address the issues?
Airbnb have now launched a 24-hour support line, which can be used by neighbours who can flag any concerns with the rentals. By doing this, Airbnb hope to lower the use of properties for parties.
Additionally, at a press conference, SVP Chris Lehane said the number of issues relating to party damage and security issues has risen in correlation to an increased number of under-25s making reservations.
In order to target anti-social behaviour they will no longer be allowing under-25s to book whole properties in their local area.
If this move helps to lower the percentage of violence and anti-social behaviour, this policy could be enforced in other countries.
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