Krakow, Poland – Krakow, one of Central Europe’s textbook examples of mass-tourism, has joined forces with nine other European cities to urge the EU to tackle Airbnb expansion in major tourist hubs.
In a joint letter, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Valencia, Vienna, Munich, Paris and Krakow highlighted the threat posed by the “explosive growth” of Airbnb rentals in their respective cities. They’ve urged EU lawmakers and the next European Commission to tackle the issue before tourist hotspots become completely unlivable and unaffordable for local residents.
The letter, issued by the municipal council of Amsterdam, warns of the “serious housing shortage” platforms like Airbnb have created: “Where homes can be rented out more lucratively to tourists, they vanish from the tradition housing market”.
The ten cities particularly expressed concerns regarding a non-binding opinion issued by the advocate general of the European Court of Justice, which freed Airbnb from a number of local rules and regulations by labeling it as a digital information provider rather than a traditional real estate agent.
Cities “have always been allowed to regulate local activity through urban planning and housing rules”, the joint statement reads, calling for “strong legal obligations” for rental platforms of the likes of Airbnb. “The advocate general seems to imply this will no longer be possible when it comes to internet giants”.
Campaigners and municipal authorities, who have long struggled to tackle the problem, have accused sharing platforms like Airbnb of driving up long-term rents for residents, facilitating over-tourism and depopulating the city centres of popular tourist destinations.
“Krakow is trying to check short-term lets in various ways”, a Krakow city spokesperson said. “This is a serious problem because in our city, this type of activity is so popular that in the centre there is a whole series of houses in which there are no permanent residents – only aparthotels for visitors”.
In neighbouring Czech Republic, Prague authorities have also attempted to crack down on the skyrocketing rise of short-term rentals and to regulate internet and sharing economy platforms.