Paris official wants Airbnb banned from city centre

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The Paris city council member in charge of housing said Thursday that he would propose outlawing home rentals via Airbnb and other websites in the city centre, accusing the company of forcing residents out of the French capital.

Ian Brossat told AFP he would also seek to prohibit the purchase of second homes in Paris, saying such measures were necessary to keep the city from becoming an “open-air museum”.

“One residence out of every four no longer houses Parisians,” said Brossat, who is expected to head the Communist party list for European Parliament elections next year.

With some 60,000 apartments on offer, Paris is the biggest market for Airbnb, which like other home-sharing platforms has come under increasing pressure from cities which claim it drives up rents for locals.

“Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?” Brossat said.

He has had Airbnb and its rivals in his sights for years, and recently published a book assailing the US giant titled “Airbnb, the Uberised City”.

He wants to forbid any short-term tourist rentals of entire apartments in the First, Second, Third and Fourth Arrondissements of Paris, home to some of the world’s most popular sites including Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre museum.

‘Changing neighbourhood identities’

In a statement to AFP, the company, estimated to be worth some $30 billion, countered that “One Parisian out of five currently uses Airbnb to top up their income and cope with living costs”.

It also accused Brossat of “broadcasting the arguments of the hotel lobbies”, which have long denounced lost revenues from tourists looking for less costly lodgings.

Brossat hopes the measures will be included in a bill aimed at overhauling France’s real estate laws to be debated this autumn.

He says an outright ban on the purchase of second homes would simply be an extension of an existing 60 percent charge on property taxes for such homes in Paris.

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

Amanda, a Canadian tourist who rented an apartment near the Eiffel Tower — an area not affected by the proposed ban — said she could understand the problem “if there are too many Airbnb renters, which can change a neighbourhood’s identity.”

The administration of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has already taken action against Airbnb and others, requiring homeowners to register with authorities and limiting rentals to 120 nights a year.

Last month Paris said it had fined home rental platforms 1.38 million euros ($1.6 million) from January to August 15 — compared with 1.3 million euros for 2017 as a whole.

Its crackdown echoes those in other hot tourist destinations including Amsterdam, Barcelona and Berlin.

Madrid officials are seeking steep taxes on legal rentals, while other Spanish cities have cracked down with measures such as limiting offerings to ground-floor apartments with separate entrances.

Last month Airbnb sued the city of New York after it passed a law forcing home-sharing platforms to disclose data about their hosts, calling it a campaign “funded by the city’s powerful hotel lobby”.

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