Paris won a major court fight against Airbnb on Thursday after a court ordered the home-sharing giant to pay an eight million euro ($9.5 million) fine for allowing over 1,000 listings to flout registration rules.
It was the latest clash between the US home rental platform and the French capital over accusations the platform is turning a blind eye to rule-breakers and exacerbating a housing shortage that is driving up property prices.
The case was filed in 2019 after officials found 1,010 listings for Paris, one of Airbnb's biggest markets, without the registration numbers required since a law passed in 2017.
The registrations are used to make sure that properties are not rented out more than 120 nights a year and that rental income is declared to the tax authorities.
Airbnb argued that as a service provider, it should not be responsible for ensuring that users of its site comply with local regulations.
But the Paris court ordered a fine of 8,000 euros per listing "given the severity of the violations... and their consequences with regards of the public interest of fighting against the shortage of rental lodgings" in the capital.
But the fine was lower than the 12.5 million euros sought by the city.
"This ruling, a first in France, is a great victory in our fight for housing for all and the regulation of the rental market," Mayor Anne Hidalgo said on Twitter.
Airbnb had said earlier Thursday that it will now require Paris landlords to prove their apartments have been registered with city hall.
Until now, Airbnb was not blocking renters who failed to supply the numbers with their ads.
The platform will impose similar rules in Bordeaux on July 30 before extending them to other popular French destinations such as Lyon, Nice and Marseille by the end of the year.
"This new step is part of several commitments by Airbnb to promote responsible tourism," the company said in a statement.
It said a "large majority" of Paris homeowners already complied with the registration requirement, without providing figures.
Before the Covid pandemic, Airbnb had 65,000 listings for the city.
"It's a victory," said Ian Brossat, the city's deputy mayor in charge of housing, in an interview Thursday with the Parisien newspaper.
He claimed that more than half of the 30,000 Paris listings currently were not displaying registration numbers.
Airbnb says Paris represented just 10 percent of all French searches in May, while searches for rural lodgings for this summer were 45 percent of the total, up from 24 percent in summer 2019.
© 2021 AFP