The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), requested by the French Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation) at the request of a company renting “Airbnb” type apartments, today delivered a verdict that validates the mechanism for regulating the rental of furnished tourist accommodation set up in Paris and other major French cities. It is a validation of the work of the Association for Professional Accommodation and Tourism (AHTOP), which has been fighting since 2015 to ensure fair competition between the players in the accommodation sector.
In the case opposing the City of Paris to a company renting furnished tourist apartments, the CJEU ruled and confirmed that the change of use procedure – which limits the transformation of residential property into commercial property and on which the current framework for furnished tourist apartments in France is based – was compatible with European law.
In its judgment dated September 22, 2020, the Court stated that “Combating the housing shortage is a sufficient reason of general interest to justify [placing a limit on the free movement of services in Europe]“. An unauthorized change of use is now punishable by a civil fine of up to €50,000.
While the City of Paris had set up a management system for furnished tourist accommodation as early as 2017 – based on laws passed by the national legislature – its proper functioning has so far been hampered by the wait for this court decision.
The AHTOP welcomes this decision, which establishes the legitimacy of local authorities to regulate a phenomenon that destabilizes the housing market as much as commercial tourist accommodation, already hard hit by the economic and health crisis.
For Serge Cachan, President of the AHTOP, the furnished tourist accommodation will finally get out of a grey zone of regulation. This decision of the Court clarifies things: all those who rent tourist accommodation in a professional way must have the same responsibilities as tourism professionals.
“It is a recognition of all the work that the AHTOP has been doing alongside municipalities since 2015!“, underlines M. Cachan.
Jean-Bernard Falco, President and founder of the AHTOP, also specifies: “A few months before the referendum promised by the City of Paris on the place to be occupied by “Airbnb” type rentals in the capital, the CJUE sends us all a strong signal: No, we cannot do just anything under the guise of “collaborative economy”“.
And he added : “Yes, we can regulate without hindering entrepreneurial freedom, and that’s what the city of Paris is doing. We must continue this good work and push the regulation of tourist accommodation wherever necessary in order to protect housing which must be accessible to all and ensure fair competition between all forms of tourist accommodation.”
Featured photo : Pont des Arts © Press