The cities alliance engaged in regulating Short Term Holiday Rentals (STHR), met last week with the European Commission Executive Vice-President, Margrethe Vestager.
The mayors and representatives of cities want stronger regulations on the STHR market in order to counter the harmful impact of STHR on the housing market and make neighbourhoods more liveable.
The rise and high profitability of STHR has led to a widespread pattern of long term housing rentals being converted into STHR. The impact on prices and the supply of affordable housing is alarming, particularly in inner cities. European citizens are increasingly voicing their concerns about nuisances caused by STHR. In addition to the adverse effects on the liveability of certain neighbourhoods and soaring prices, they report: noise disturbance, health hazards, and even the slow disappearance of convenience stores.
Faced with increasing challenges, numerous cities have adopted local laws to better regulate the phenomenon. However, illegal STHR activities are difficult to counter as the platforms do not readily share their data with local authorities. Implicated leasers and platforms still benefit from a largely advantageous and outdated EU legal framework, established well before the boom of the digital economy.
Ahead of the announced Digital Services Act, and following the recent joint statement by 22 cities and key tourist destinations, the city representatives shared proposals with Executive Vice-President Vestager. The topics ranged from obliging platforms to share relevant data, key to any efficient controlling and enforcement system; to holding platforms liable for the content they display; to ensuring better cooperation and compliance with local rules.
The European Digital Services Act presents an unprecedented opportunity for the European Commission to tackle these challenges. Our cities acknowledge that tourism is an important source of income and employment for many people and they do not oppose this new form of rental. But touristic rental in private homes can only be done responsibly if the necessary regulation is in place. European cities are confident in Executive Vice-President Vestager’s willingness to take their concerns into account and allow for a balanced European framework to emerge: one that is respectful of laws and adapted to the needs of citizens.
Femke Halsema, Mayor of Amsterdam said, “Digital platforms have a huge impact on European cities, in particular in Short Term Holiday Rentals. We all know the future is digital, which brings innovation, growth and opportunities for all. But we do need another regulatory approach to these digital services to ensure both the well-being and freedom of our citizens.”
Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris said, “We are not against the platforms, but they must abide with local and national regulations. It is time for a new European regulatory approach that serves first and foremost the general interest, which is for us accessibility of housing and the liveability in our cities.”
Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence and Vice President of Eurocities added: “We can work with the European Commission to ensure an effective EU framework that protects and empowers people and businesses, while ensuring data and new technologies are used to deliver better public policy.”
Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President, European Commission responded: “Better cooperation between platforms and public authorities will be a prerequisite for a proper enforcement of the Digital Services Act. It will provide a modern and harmonised regulatory framework, and take account of the needs of national and local administrations and compliance with local rules, while providing a predictable environment for innovative digital services.”