Airbnb says not property agent; hoteliers disagree

BRUSSELS: Online rental marketplace Airbnb rejected a contention by a leading French hoteliers’ association that it is a real estate agent and should be subjected to property rules in a case which could affect other online services. Since its launch in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb, which matches people wishing to rent out all or part of their homes to temporary guests via a website, has expanded rapidly. The company has, however, clashed with hoteliers and authorities in cities from New York to Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris amid accusations of it worsening housing shortages and pushing out lower income residents.

France is Airbnb’s second largest market after the United States, with over 400,000 listings, and Paris is its biggest single market, with 65,000 homes signed up to its site. Following a complaint by AhTop association, which represents 30,000 hotels and syndicates, a French court has referred the case to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), Europe’s highest. The online company earlier this week put in its submission to the ECJ. — Reuters