The Airbnb Wars continue in Paris
I wrote some time back rather passionately about forces conspiring to stifle Airbnb and Uber in Paris. The City of Paris recently upped the ante by publishing a website that shows all the properties that are “properly registered” as airbnbs in the city. Unsurprisingly, the French, operating from a cultural sensitivity to “denouncements” of neighbors during WWII, reacted strongly to this and labeled it a “rat on your neighbors” policy. If anything, it will cause a backlash among even those neutral to slightly negative on airbnb.
To catch up those who aren’t familiar with the intricacies of Parisian housing policy, anyone is allowed to rent space within their own personal home, for example a spare room or a couch in a living room, provided that they either own the space or have permission from the landlord. In one recent landmark case, an owner sued a tenant and won for letting out an apartment without permission. The law additionally allows you to rent a space you don’t occupy for up to 120 days a year, which would cover a long absence from Paris (or several) for whatever reason.
The argument goes that these short-term rentals are changing the makeup of the city and of particular neighborhoods, and to an extent, this is true. And yet, all these short-term rentals represent opportunities of pure revenue for Paris — everyone coming to the city is going to spend money and hotels and hostels alone don’t meet demand. Indeed, Airbnb has moved the goalposts on what a travel stay consists of now — no longer prisoner to the social desert of a hotel or the social overload of a hostel, people can choose a third way, in which they sometimes have an unofficial guide to the city, whether that be as simple as answering a few questions before arrival or as far as leading them on a cool walk about town. Airbnb is now saying, “don’t just visit there, live there, if only for one night.”
Paris is unlikely to get Berlinian about Airbnb, but given that there are fewer than 200 properties on the “official” register out of over 50,000 listings makes it clear that there is still a gap in reality and expectation between a city being brutally lobbied by the hotel industry (and a Republique that is insistent on taxing everything it can touch, and even what it can’t) and a Parisian populace only too glad to get some help paying the bills by renting out some personal space. In a way, it’s time for the residents of Paris to benefit from Paris’ reputation as well — given that that they have to put up with (without compensation) a neverending flow of tourists throughout the year.
For now, it seems clear that anyone who is renting out wholly unoccupied spaces on a short-term basis 100% of the year better watch out. I suggest divesting yourself or pivoting into long-term rentals. Otherwise, be warned that the city is coming for you, and it will cost you tens of thousands of euros if you get caught.
This story originally appeared on The American in Paris.
The illustration was made by Emil Lendof for the Daily Beast
Stephen Heiner is a writer and entrepreneur living in Paris, France. If you like what he wrote here and want to see more, click on his Patreon page, and if you feel like it, drop some coins in his tip jar. Also, since this is Medium, please click “recommend” if this post contributed to your intellectual life or feel free to respond with major disagreements. He’s looking forward to engaging with you.