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Paris fines on illegal AirBnB-style rentals soar
Fines for illegal holiday rentals in Paris this year have raised as much as for the whole of last year, the city council revealed on Wednesday. The French capital is one of many cities battling against the effects of online letting services such as AirBnB on accomodation costs for locals.
Some 1.38 million euros had been levied on illegal letters by 15 August, even before the peak summer holiday season was over, Paris housing chief Ian Brossat announced.
The total for 2017 was 1.3 million euros.
According to Brossat, a Communist Party councillor, 111 premises were concerned with an average fine of 12,000 euros in each case.
Renting as business
With a legal limit of renting homes for 120 days, the city council argues that it is not trying to prevent householders letting while on holiday or away for short periods.
The target is "professionals disguised as amateurs", who buy a number of apartments or houses just to let them, Brossat said.
A 2016 survey found that 44 percent of premises in France advertised on AirBnB were permanently available for rent.
Thousands of homes leave market
Paris is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations and over 60,000 properties are currently listed on AirBnB, compared to 80,000 hotel rooms in the city.
The city says that 20,000 homes have been lost to tourist rental in the last five years, while hotel owners complain that their business has suffered.
There is widespread concern that the AirBnB boom has pushed up property prices in Paris and in many other cities.
Following raids in some districts in 2016, the French capital has tightened its regulations, imposing a registration number on advertisements, so as to make it easier to see if owners are over the limit.
In April it initiated legal action against AirBnB and Wimdu for failing to enforce the rule.
A housing law currently under debate would raise the maximum fine for illegal letting from the present 25,000 and oblige owners to tell their local council how many days they rent their property out for.
AirBnB has this week also been hit by accusations that racist proprietors in France systematically refuse to let to people with north African-sounding names.
Berlin, Barcelona, New York ...
Paris is not the only city to face problems due to the growth in tourism and online rental services:
Berlin has imposed a permit for letting and a fine of up to 100,000 euros for failing to comply;
Barcelona has been the scene of anti-tourist protests and AirBnB was fined 600,000 euros last year for failing to comply with its regulations;
New York city council this year voted to require the platform to hand over the names and addresses of advertisers in the city, a move that could cut bookings by half, according to the Bloomberg wire service;
In Japan, where local people have complained of "tourist pollution", would-be hosts in specified zones must apply for licences and there is a 180-day limit on letting.