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Is your neighbor illegally hosting on Airbnb? Tell on them, says Paris

paris airbnb neighbor issues eiffel tower
Yann Caradec/Flickr (used under Creative Commons)
Paris is giving a whole new meaning to acting neighborly. As Europe continues its battle with Airbnb, the French capital is now asking residents to rat on their fellow Parisians if they’re not following the proper protocol when it comes to the city’s housing rules. On Monday, officials announced a new section of the city’s open data portal, providing a list of all residents who have properly registered to serve as an Airbnb host. Currently, there are just 126 residences listed on the portal.

This is problematic, considering that Paris is considered one of Airbnb’s most popular cities, with some estimates placing total listings as high as 41,476 in the City of Light. And Paris takes issue with this discrepancy because hosts are meant to pay tourist taxes (the same taxes levied upon hotels). So now, they’re pitting neighbor against neighbor in hopes of getting people to register, in order to get their tax revenue.

Telling on your neighbor will come with some serious consequences — for them, not you. Those found in violation of the applicable city ordinance (that is to say, unregistered Airbnb hosts), could face a fine of up to $28,000. So if you’ve a particularly large bone to pick with a neighbor, this is certainly one way to do it.

“We hope that this causes a shock of civic conscience, and people begin to follow the rules on their own, without waiting to be eventually reported by a neighbor,” said Mathias Vicherat, chief of staff for Mayor Anne Hidalgo, in an interview with Europe1.

Of course, this is doing nothing for Paris’ relationship with Airbnb, which is already strained, to say the least. While Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky has previously noted that the company wants “to make sure that hosts do comply with local laws and regulations,” the last several months have seen several cities, both in the United States and abroad, raise concerns about obvious violations with regard to local laws.

But as Airbnb told Digital Trends in an email, Paris’ new ordinance is “confusing,” as it “refer[s] only to properties shared for more than 120 days.” A spokesperson for the company noted, “Paris has clear home sharing rules that allow local residents to share their space for up to 120 days without a permit, sending a simple message to locals that everyone can benefit from visitors to their communities.” This refers to “Bill ALUR,” which was signed into action in March of 2014, clarifying that French citizens are allowed to rent out their homes without a government permit.

Indeed, Airbnb insists that their platform has been hugely beneficial to the people of France, claiming that the typical French host makes €2,000 by renting out their space for 26 nights a year. In 2015, the company says, it added €2.5 billion to the economy, supporting 13,300 jobs across France. 

Moreover, Airbnb says, it began collecting and remitting tourist taxes from guests on behalf of hosts last year, remitting nearly €1.2 million in tax revenue to the City of Paris on behalf of hosts in the first three months of operation.

“We too oppose unwelcome commercial operators and want to work with Paris on progressive measures to promote the rules and build an open, transparent, and responsible home sharing community,” Airbnb told us. It just doesn’t look like they think French neighbors are doing anything wrong. 

 Updated on 05-11-2016 by Lulu Chang: Included statement from Airbnb regarding the Parisian City Hall’s actions. 

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