MEPs introduce tech rules to monitor abusive short-term rentals across Europe

As cities struggle with illegal holiday rentals, MEPs introduce data-sharing rules for online platforms like Airbnb, Booking, Expedia and TripAdvisor

MEPs and Euorpean ministers have reached an agreement on the regulation on data collection and sharing on short-term accommodation rental services.

The deal sets up a free online registration for short-term rental properties in EU countries that require it, so that hosts receive a registration number that allows them to rent out their property. This information will be sent to the authorities, who will know the identity of the host and be able to verify their information.

Dutch MEP Kim Van Sparrentak (Greens) said the initiative will promote a transparent and responsible platform economy in the EU and to inform effective local policies.

“Cities are struggling with an explosion of illegal holiday rentals. This puts the liveability and affordability of cities across Europe under pressure. Until now, rental platforms have refused to share data, making it difficult to enforce local regulations. Fortunately, this law puts an end to that and returns more control to the cities. We are demonstrating that it is not large tech companies, but the cities themselves, that determine the rules.”

The market for short-term rentals has increased rapidly in recent years, mainly due to the emergence and expansion of hundreds of online platforms such as Airbnb, Booking, Expedia and TripAdvisor.

This type of accommodation comprises about one quarter of total tourist accommodation in the EU and this proportion is expected to increase. While such rentals create benefits for hosts, tourists and many regions, the lack of appropriate rules also contributes to problems like higher housing prices, permanent residents being displaced and disturbed, over-tourism, and unfair competition.

The online platforms will also have to ensure that a host’s registration number enables users to identify the property on the listing and that the information provided is reliable and complete. Platforms will have to make “reasonable efforts” to conduct random checks on this information. Competent authorities can suspend registration numbers, ask platforms to remove illegal listings, or impose penalties on non-compliant platforms or hosts.

The single digital entry point can receive data from platforms about host activity on a monthly basis. 

The informal agreement will need to be adopted by Council and Parliament before it becomes law. After its entry into force, member states will have 24 months to adapt their registration systems and create the necessary IT infrastructure.

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