First European Country Has Banned Airbnb

by SharonKurheg

Airbnb has carved its place in the travel world. Although many still opt to stay at hotels while traveling, others prefer to rent out a room, apartment or entire home for their short-term stays.

Unfortunately, Airbnbs aren’t always a boon to society at large. They’ve upended landlord-tenant relationships (read: some landlords have tried to evict tenants so they can charge higher short-term rents to vacationers). They’ve artificially raised home prices so much that families can’t afford them; only deep-pocketed investors and potential landlords can can. They’ve turned well-established neighborhoods into revolving hotel districts. And from an overall financial point of view, Airbnb can take away tax revenues typically paid to lodgers.

To combat these problems, major cities around the world have placed strict policies regarding who is and isn’t allowed to rent out Airbnbs. According to Investopedia, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Miami and Santa Monica have some of the strictest policies for Airbnbs. Berlin, London, San Francisco and New York have looser requirements but are still strictly regulated.

In August 2021, 23 European cities urged the EU to limit short-term rentals. As a result:

  • Barcelona became the first major city in Europe to forbid short-term private room rentals (it continues to allow the renting of entire apartments, as long as the owner of the property holds the appropriate license).
  • In Paris, you can rent your apartment for short term rentals, but only if the property is your primary residence. Even then, you can only rent it out for up to 120 days a year.
  • According to Dutch regulations, you can only rent out your entire home in Amsterdam for a maximum of 30 nights per year, unless you have a specific permit that allows you to rent out your home for more nights, such as a short term stay license.
  • In London, they go by what’s called a 90-day rule. The 90-day rule means that properties in Greater London can only be let out on a short-term basis for a maximum of 90 days per calendar year.

Meanwhile, the EU, in response to the August 2021 request by its cities, proposed a legal framework for short-term rentals. It’s still going through the proper channels, but meanwhile, an entire European country has put its foot down in regard to Airbnb and similar companies.

Portugal recently passed a package of new laws and regulations, one of which says that no more short-term rental licenses will be granted in the nation’s urban centers. That means no more new Airbnbs in Portugal’s larger cities.

In relation to that, Portugal has also ended its “golden visa” program. This program granted non-European Union residents EU passports in exchange for investing more than €350,000 in real estate in certain areas (often, through “golden visas,” property developers would flip buildings into short-term rentals [usually Airbnbs] to maximize their profits).

Portugal is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe and for the past decade it’s worked hard to increase international tourism, investment, and development in an attempt to grow its economy. On paper, the country’s policies worked; it became a destination for wealthy Chinese and American investors, property prospectors, and even digital nomads seeking sun and sea on a budget.

Unfortunately, the downsides of these policies have now overshadowed the benefit to locals. According to Reuters, rental prices in Lisbon have risen by 37% in the past year, even though residents’ annual wages have remained relatively stagnant.

Curtailing Airbnb and other short term rentals won’t be the only way to lower rental prices for residents, but it will help.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa said part of the new program will also include introducing a mechanism to regulate rent increases, he added, and the government will offer tax incentives to landlords who convert tourism properties into houses for locals to rent, instead of visitors.

Established Airbnbs will not be immediately affected, but as those “golden visas” expire, that should also help to decrease the number of short term rentals in the country’s larger cities.

“The great appeal of our cities is not to turn [us] into some sort of Disneyland,” Costa, said at a press conference late last week, as reported by Bloomberg. “There is no city that can remain authentic if it isn’t able to maintain its residents.”

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Marjolein Dilven February 21, 2023 - 2:34 pm

That’s interesting. I live in Amsterdam, and it’s also a problem there. In the big cities in the Netherlands, you can’t rent out your property for more than 90 days in a year. They also take these measures to ensure people don’t only buy the property to rent it out.

Pauline Hall June 6, 2023 - 7:15 am

Air b n b should be confined to 1 or 2 rooms in a home, not a property specifically bought for this purpose.
York has too many and as a result the housing problem has only worsened


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