Deal Agreed to Improve Transparency in EU’s Short-term Rental Sector
European Parliament and Council negotiators have agreed on new rules on collection and data sharing on short-term rentals to help local authorities improve tourism services.
MEPs and the Spanish Presidency of the Council have reached a provisional agreement on the regulation on data collection and sharing related to short-term accommodation rental services (STRs). This initiative aims to promote a transparent and responsible platform economy in the EU and to inform effective local policies.
The market for short-term rentals has increased rapidly in recent years, mainly due to the emergence and expansion of hundreds of online platforms such as Airbnb, Booking, Expedia and TripAdvisor. This type of accommodation comprises about one quarter of total tourist accommodation in the EU and this proportion is expected to increase. While such rentals create benefits for hosts, tourists and many regions, some researchers argue that the lack of appropriate rules also contributes to problems like higher housing prices, permanent residents being displaced and disturbed, over-tourism, and unfair competition.
The agreed rules include:
- Simpler registration: set up of a free (or at a proportionate cost) online registration procedure for short-term rental properties in EU countries that require it. Once the procedure is completed, hosts will receive a registration number that will allow them to rent out their property. The relevant authorities will know the identity of the host and be able to verify their information.
- Safer rental services: online platforms will have to ensure that a host’s registration number enables users to identify the property on the listing and that the information provided is reliable and complete. Platforms will have to make “reasonable efforts” to conduct random checks on this information. Competent authorities can suspend registration numbers, ask platforms to remove illegal listings, or impose penalties on non-compliant platforms or hosts.
- Transmission of data: member states will set up a single digital entry point to receive data from platforms about host activity (e.g. specific address, corresponding registration number, URL of the listing) on a monthly basis. A less burdensome regime is set up for micro and small platforms with an average of 4,250 listings or less. This data will be used to compile statistics and allow public authorities to better assess the situation on the ground and improve tourism services in their area.
Commenting the deal, rapporteur Kim Van Sparrentak (Greens/EFA, NL) said, ‘Cities are struggling with an explosion of illegal holiday rentals. This puts the liveability and affordability of cities across Europe under pressure. Until now, rental platforms have refused to share data, making it difficult to enforce local regulations. Fortunately, this law puts an end to that and returns more control to the cities. We are demonstrating that it is not large tech companies, but the cities themselves, that determine the rules.’