Prague has joined a list of more than ten major European cities who have urged the EU to enact stiffer Airbnb regulations.

Prague’s City Council has approved a motion that will allow its name to be added to a letter sent to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), urging the body to discuss the impact Airbnb and other short term rental platforms have had on their communities.

Prague joins ten major European destination cities in this request, which include Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Vienna. These ten cities have penned a letter to the CJEU in which they laid out the reasoning behind their decision.

“Increasing urbanization, together with an increase in tourism and persistent housing shortages, are the main problems our cities face. One of the related problems is that it is increasingly beneficial for property owners to set aside their properties from the long-term accommodation segment and use them for short-term rentals,” the statement read. “These short-term rentals are primarily for tourists at the expense of locals and families who want to live and work in our cities.”

Prague’s City Hall penned their own statement, detailing the reasons why they decided to become the latest European city to demand stiffer Airbnb regulations.

“Prague has also been facing huge problems with affordable housing. Over the past 15 years, Prague’s population has increased by more than 12 percent, which is almost 150,000 [people] in absolute terms. At the same time, Prague is also a popular destination for tourists from all over the world,” City Councilor Hana Kordová Marvanová wrote on the City Hall website.

Prague has been issuing Airbnb regulations on their own as of late. Mayor Zdeněk Hřib just pushed forward a rule that would bar property owners from leasing out entire homes, except when it was their own home and they were temporarily vacating it. This rule will limit tourists to Airbnb rentals with single rooms in accommodations where the owner also lives.

Mayor Hřib has accused Airbnb of turning Prague into a “distributed hotel” and suggested that failure to regulate it was “eating the city from inside,” as reported by The Guardian.

“In the past, you could limit the amount of tourists in the city simply by approving a certain number of hotels of certain capacity during the process of building permits,” said Hřib. “Now in Prague there is no possibility for the city to limit the accommodation capacity for tourists. The numbers are really critical.”

Nearly 8 million tourists flocked to Prague in 2018, up from 2.6 million in 2000. It is also worth noting that the city’s population is just 1.3 million.

A report from the city’s institute of planning and development said the number of Airbnb outlets tripled from 5,537 in March 2016 to more than 13,000 in May 2018, representing a jump from 17,913 to 52,738 in the number of available beds for tourists. Eighty percent of these rentals were for entire homes. The end result? Housing prices have increased to the point where an average Prague resident needs to pay 14 times their annual salary to buy a home in the city, according to the mayor.

Countering Prague’s demands, Europe’s top court recently ruled that Airbnb is merely a digital platform, and not a property manager or estate agent. This ruling will make it difficult to enact stricter regulations. Some cities have taken it upon themselves to enact their own regulations, with Amsterdam tightening its rules on the renting of entire homes, limiting rentals to fewer than 30 days, from 60 days.

photo credit: pixabay

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