A sigh of relief for French hoteliers

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FRENCH hoteliers breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday as Paris City Council confirmed that from December, it will be mandatory for people renting their apartments on short-term rental websites such as Airbnb to register their property with the town hall.

The ruling comes as Airbnb, much like its ride-hailing peer Uber, is facing a growing crackdown from legislators worldwide triggered in part by campaigns from the hotel industry, who see the rental service as unfair competition.

Airbnb and other rental platforms have also been criticised for driving up property prices and contributing to a housing shortage in some cities such as Paris and Berlin.

With 350,000 listings, France is Airbnb’s second-largest market after the United States – and Paris, the most visited city in the world, is its biggest single market, with 65,000 homes.

On Tuesday, Paris City Council voted to make it mandatory from December 1 to obtain a registration number from the town hall before posting an advertisement for a short-term rental on a website.

The ruling makes it harder for those renting out property to exceed the 120 days a year legal rental limit for a main residence and makes it easier for authorities to track which properties are rented out and collect local taxes.

‘This is a strong signal sent out to other municipalities. Local collectivities now have a tool to monitor the tourist offers and control the collection of tourist taxes,’ Roland Heguy, the head of French hotel federation UMIH said in a statement.

Like a lot of big cities, Paris is cracking down on illegal tourist rentals.

The French capital lost at least 20,000 rental properties from the market over the last five years and in the central and western parts of Paris tourist rentals now make up to 20 per cent of the global rental offer, the City said in its ruling.

Due to pressure from hoteliers and officials Airbnb has agreed to charge visitors the traditional French ‘tourist tax’.

It began collecting the tax from guests in Paris in 2015 and now collects it in 50 French cities.

It paid back €7.3 million euros to French authorities in tourist taxes in 2016.

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