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France

Paris cracks down on Airbnb renters with harsher fines

© Ludovic Marin, AFP file photo | The Eiffel Tower, Paris's most famous landmark.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2017-08-12

Paris authorities are cracking down on homeowners who rent out their properties for longer than the legal limit, with fines increasing more than thirteenfold since last year.

In the first half of 2017, Parisians renting property to tourists for more than the maximum of 120 days – many of them using Airbnb – were fined a total €615,000, compared to €45,000 for the same period in 2016, Le Parisien newspaper reported on Friday.

Officers from the city’s Housing and Planning Department (DLH) penalised 31 property owners who had broken the law in the first six months of 2017. Not only had the proprietors gone over the 120 day renting cap, they also failed to declare their rentals to the Paris authorities.

In 2014, such property owners were charged €560,000 in fines for the whole year – although this figure is inflated because of one owner who illegally rented all of his 13 properties to tourists, invoking a whopping €130,000 fine.

"The huge increase in fines and prosecutions in the first half of 2017 doesn’t suggest that more people are renting out their properties illegally,” said Ian Brossat, the Paris councillor in charge of housing, in comments to DLH.

“Rather, judges are punishing [infractions] more harshly. They see that people know about the law. Before, people were given the benefit of the doubt – but now that’s over.”

>> Read more: Are Parisians being asked to denounce neighbours over illegal Airbnb listings?

Airbnb France spokesperson Manon Desjardins-Mullie told FRANCE 24 that there was no evidence that the fined hosts were Airbnb users.

“This is not Airbnb-specific, and is far from representative of the Airbnb community in Paris, who typically share their space for less than three days a month”, Desjardins-Mullie said.

“And even if all the hosts fined this year were Airbnb renters, they would represent less than 0.05 percent of all Parisian hosts”.

According to Desjardins-Mullie, Airbnb France remains the only rental platform in Paris to collect tax on behalf of hosts. She added that last December, they had proposed to the City of Paris that an automated 120 day rental cap be introduced, but the mayor’s office had not responded.

There are 25 DLH investigators cracking down on Paris’s illegal renters. "We do a lot of preparation before knocking on an offender’s door,” Le Parisien quoted one investigator as telling the DLH.

“We prepare the files. We check out the property they’re renting. We look at the tax returns and we look at any complaints by apartment co-op boards – not to mention neighbours who’re sick and tired of tourists!”

However, Brossat emphasised that “we’re not going after Parisians who rent out their properties to put food on the table". Rather, the people being targeted are the "owners of several properties who consciously decide to turn housing into a cash machine”.

Date created : 2017-08-11

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