The big city offensive against Airbnb

Funny year for Airbnb. On the one hand, there are the figures, which tell of commercial and financial success: historic revenues this summer, the world’s leading tourism company by market capitalization, a year after its sensational entry on Wall Street. On the other, the texts, which accumulate and tell another story: that of a public sphere which organizes its response to short-term rental, accused of contributing to overtourism and rising property prices. So many laws and municipal regulations that produce other figures: a spectacular drop in the supply of available housing in the largest cities.

Read the interview: Article reserved for our subscribers Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb: “I thought we left for a desert crossing, and it’s the other way around”

In an interview with World in May 2021, Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, hoped that the tourism crisis and the disaffection of visitors to the big metropolises would constitute ” a new start [dans sa] relationship with cities ” : economically impoverished, the municipalities would need more tourist rental. It seems that this is not the case, and this year has especially coincided with more regulation, in France as elsewhere.

This movement culminated in this first half of December. On the 7th, Airbnb purged its site unregistered announcements in ten French tourist towns, ie 10% to 40% of the offer depending on the case. On the 9th, the city of New York, where the strict instructions were little respected, adopted a rule of prior registration of furnished tourist accommodation implying the responsibility of the platforms. On the 13th, the first phase of an initiative by the European Commission aimed at providing, in the medium term, a regulatory framework for this activity was completed. On the 15th, Paris, number one city in the world for Airbnb, stepped up the procedure for converting housing. The last few months have also seen the rules harden in Washington, Barcelona, ​​Vienna and Ottawa.

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Nothing that apparently disarms Emmanuel Marill, Managing Director of Airbnb for Europe, the Middle East and Africa:

“There is nothing worse than the gray area; accommodation providers need this framework which is, in France, relatively proportionate and promotes a balance between tourism, shops and access to housing. We have always been collaborative and worked with governments to identify speculators who circumvent the regulations, because they harm the 99% of people who do so in a laudable way, for their purchasing power. “

Negotiation posture

In fact, the platform has long been scrapped in court against communities that sought to regulate its practices. In the United States, with San Francisco or New York, in particular. Then in Europe. But after a series of legal setbacks, Airbnb adopted a negotiating posture with governments, hiring lobbyists such as Chris Lehane, a former strategist for the American Democratic Party. Objective: to co-construct the legislation so that it harms the economic model as little as possible. This regulation, explain sharing economy experts, also has the advantage of limiting market access and uncertainty.

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