Paris is suing Airbnb for £10m for illegal rentals

Helen Coffey

Airbnb is being sued by the city of Paris for up to €12.5m (£10.9m), according to the mayor.

The French capital is taking action against more than 1,000 illegal rental listings on the accommodation platform that do not comply with French law.

Homeowners in France can only rent out a property for up to 120 days a year, and ads must include a registration number to ensure this rule isn’t being violated. Some 1,000 Airbnb Paris listings are thought to have broken this rule.

A law passed last year in France means companies such as Airbnb can be fined up to €12,500 per illegal listing – if each of the 1,000 ads were to get the maximum penalty, the US platform could be facing a €12.5m bill.

“The goal is to send a shot across the bows to get it over with unauthorised rentals that spoil some Parisian neighbourhoods,” Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told Journal du Dimanche newspaper of the move to pursue these fines.

Other cities have instituted caps or require permits for Airbnb and other accommodation platforms.

When Ada Colau, Barcelona’s first female mayor, took office in 2015, one of her first moves was to freeze licences for all new hotels and holiday rental apartments and go after short-term rental sites, slapping Airbnb with a €30,000 (£24,000) fine.

Meanwhile, in 2016 Berlin banned tourists from renting entire apartments through Airbnb and its competitors in an attempt to protect affordable housing.

With the help of large fines, the German city’s authorities hoped to protect the property supply and keep rents as low as possible.

The new law, entitled “Zweckentfremdungsverbot”, banned the short-term let of entire apartments to tourists without a city permit.

If found flouting these rules, Berliners could be fined up to €100,000 (£78,371).

The Independent has contacted Airbnb for comment.