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Airbnb softens its tone, agreeing to regulations in Amsterdam and London

Airbnb is trading an ornery history for an olive branch. The home rental company, which has long been known for fighting government regulations, is now changing its tone — at least in Europe. On Thursday, Airbnb made a novel move, agreeing to limit the number of nights hosts can rent out homes in London and Amsterdam, two of the company’s biggest markets. This could set a precedent for Airbnb’s operations the world over, notably in other major cities like New York and San Francisco, which have long accused Airbnb of driving up rental prices and having otherwise adverse effects on the housing market.

But now, Airbnb looks to be playing by the rules (regardless of whether or not they agree with them). Beginning in January, the company will disallow hosts in London and Amsterdam from offering their entire homes for more than the legally permissible number of days. In London, that limit is 90 days, whereas in Amsterdam, it stands at 60. “This is a way of saying, you can trust people to paint within the lines, because we’re going to help with that,” said Patrick Robinson, Airbnb’s head of public policy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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It remains unclear how this about-face will affect hosts and guests back home in the United States. In New York, a new law has been proposed that more or less bans short-term rentals by implementing a fine of $7,500 on hosts who list their entire homes in a multi-unit building (which is to say, an apartment in a complex), for fewer than 30 days. A slightly less stringent law is also in play in San Francisco, where Mayor Ed Lee is considering a bill that forbids renting out a space for more than 60 days of a year.

In both cases, Airbnb says that it’s hoping for a compromise.