The Trocadero Fountain in front of The Eiffel Tower in Paris. (AFP/Ludovic Marin)
The city of Paris has sharply stepped up fines on homeowners for illegally renting out their apartments on websites such as Airbnb, a city official said Wednesday.
“Between January 1 and August 15, 2018 we registered 1.38 million euros (about P85 billion) in fines for illegal rentals to tourists” compared to 1.3 million euros for all of 2017, said Ian Bressat, responsible for housing in the mayor’s office.
That works out to an increase of nearly 60 percent over the rate at which fines were issued last year.
He said 111 fines had been issued for an average of around 12,000 against people improperly renting out a secondary residence.
“They are professionals disguising themselves as amateurs” said Brossat, adding that overwhelmingly the rentals were advertised via Airbnb.
The boom in holiday rentals on platforms such as Airbnb has also worried residents and officials in Paris, as in numerous other cities, as they fear a drop in apartments available for long-term rentals.
After battling to get holiday rental platforms to pay taxes, Paris recently imposed limits on the number of nights homeowners can rent out their primary residence, requiring them to register with city hall and display that number on their advertisements.
Airbnb has 65,000 rentals listed in the city of Paris, compared to 80,000 hotel rooms available.
According to the city, some 20,000 apartments have been converted from long-term residences to dedicated short-term holiday rentals over the past five years.
Timothee de Roux, head of an association that represents holiday rental platforms including Airbnb, said problems with owners not respecting the rules “is completely marginal” and affects only certain neighborhoods.
He said all of the members of the association “are engaged to combat real estate speculators”.