Prague to tighten Airbnb rules

City wants to be able to limit the service in certain areas and types of property

Prague City Hall wants to change the law that regulates the operation of the accommodation through the Airbnb application. Accommodation providers, for example, would be obliged to give the city information on the residents, and Prague also wants to introduce the possibility to regulate Airbnb through decrees.

Last year, people booked 1.79 million overnight stays through Airbnb in Prague, which is 61 percent higher than the previous year.

One reason for a plan to change the rules is complaints from residents. According to the city, Airbnb is changing the character of some neighborhoods that have traditionally been designed for long-term living.

The city wants to regulate shared accommodation for security and safety in homes, as the system leads to non-residents having access to halls and common spaces in residential buildings.

Because many people have been buying up flats just to rent out, the availability of housing for Prague residents has been drastically reduced and prices have risen. Hotels also complain of unequal conditions and unfair competition, as Airbnb operators do not have to meet the same legal standards as hotels.

Providing information to the city on accommodated people is intended to make it easier and more effective to check on whether the local occupancy taxes are properly paid.

In connection with this, Prague supports an amendment to the Local Fees Act, which would allow the collection and payment of the taxes directly to the intermediary of shared accommodation based on a contract with the city.

City authorities also want the possibility to regulate Airbnb through decrees. Each community should have this authority and could set the rules according to their needs, the city maintains. The situation is specific in every community, so it should be up to the community to decide on the regulations, the City Council states in a document at approved.

In the event that the Prague could introduce a decree, among other things, it would be possible to limit shared accommodation to a certain number of days a year or to ban it in certain areas. The maximum number of guests could be set, or a permit could be required for certain types of property.

Representatives of tenant groups say that the original concept of services like Airbnb was good. People with a spare room could get some money by renting it on occasion. But it was never intended that people would buy 10 flats or even entire buildings just to rent them out online, while not paying the same fees as hotels are required to pay or meeting the same level of safety and other legal requirements.

Other cities have faced similar problems to those of Prague and have sought to regulate Airbnb. In Berlin, accommodation can only be provided by someone who lives in the real estate. Offenders face large fines.

Some part of Paris and Amsterdam allow short-term apartment rentals up to a maximum of 120 days a year. Paris also has laws stating the renters subletting via Airbnb cannot make more on the flat than they pay in rent themselves to the owners.

Vienna now requires mandatory registration of accommodation providers, which has helped to increase the amount of taxes collected.

New York is passing laws to require Airbnb to turn over all its booking data to the city so the data can be used to ensure taxes are paid.

Airbnb has been operating in the Czech Republic since 2009. In addition to Airbnb, there are similar services such as Flipkey, HomeAway, House Trip, Vacation Rentals, and Vrbo.

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