A European Union court has ruled that accommodation booking agent Airbnb is not an estate agent. Hence, it does not need a real estate license for its operations in France.
France’s Association for Professional Tourism and Accommodation (AHTOP) had taken Airbnb to court, complaining that the company did not comply with French property laws.
It would have been a landmark ruling and a precedent for other EU regulators had the court ruled the other way.
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)’s made this decision based on its determination that Airbnb was an “information society service” rather than a property broker.
The judges also drew a difference between Airbnb and Uber on the basis of how much control the property-booking app has over transactions on its service.
Airbnb says the decision will allow it to ‘move forward and continue working with cities on clear rules’. The decision is a victory in its fight to avoid more regulation by city authorities.
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This ruling is also a boost for the company ahead of its stock market listing next year. Airbnb is currently fighting claims from city authorities around the world, including Paris, Amsterdam, and Barcelona.
Par of these claims are complaints that its services are changing the face of neighbourhoods and that it should come under heavier regulation.
“We want to be good partners to everyone and already we have worked with more than 500 governments to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax,” the company said in a statement.
Airbnb Will Be Regulated, Just Not As A Real Estate
The court says such an “intermediation service” puts potential guests in contact with professional or non-professional hosts offering short-term accommodation services and must be classified as an “information society service” under directive 2000/31.
A spokesman for AHTOP, Quentin Michelon, says the battle to regulate Airbnb was not lost.
Saying: “We filed our complaint in 2015, and France has since introduced new regulations that apply also to Airbnb. Eventually, Airbnb is going to be regulated in France, just not as a real estate agent at this point.”
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