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Establishing a European Framework for Short-Term Rentals that Works for Public Authorities, Hosts and Online Platforms

Today, eu travel tech releases its position on the upcoming European Commission’s initiative on short-term rentals (STRs), welcoming it as a necessary step in ensuring clear, proportionate and enforceable rules for STR providers, public authorities and online platforms in this growing market.

STRs are increasingly popular in Europe, offering alternative accommodation solutions to travellers looking for greater flexibility and authenticity in their stay. STRs benefit local communities too, by contributing to better territorial spread of tourist accommodation and helping put on the map less well-known destinations. The growth of STRs in recent years has, however, given rise to some challenges, especially in bigger cities, including putting pressure on housing availability and affordability.

In the absence of a harmonised framework on STRs, several European tourism destinations have taken different regulatory approaches to the sector. Such rules have, however, proven difficult to enforce and have contributed to the creation of an extremely fragmented regulatory landscape in Europe.

eu travel tech members have long advocated for a harmonised framework introducing clear and proportionate rules on the provision and marketing of STR services. Online platforms have, often, been at the centre of the debate regarding the challenges posed by the rapid spread of STRs. In our view, such challenges require a regulatory framework that clarifies and carefully balances roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved – online platforms, property owners, as well as the remit of public authorities – and that aims at standardising data sharing approaches across Europe, among others.

Our key recommendations for the upcoming European Commission’s initiative in this space include:

  • Introducing harmonised registration schemes: Registration schemes are the basis for a regulated STR environment. An EU level framework should underpin this policy instrument.  Illegal unregistered properties will continue to be delisted by online platforms in conformity with EU law (Digital Services Act).
  • Using registration schemes to support data exchange. Registration schemes can be an efficient source of data from STR hosts, providing authorities with a comprehensive overview of the market to support more informed policy decisions. STR platforms could provide complementary data, where necessary.
  • Ensuring clear and proportionate rules. An EU legislation on STRs should introduce clear definitions of professional STR providers and peers to avoid over-regulation of the sector. Professional STR providers should be designated according to whether the STR activity is their primary occupation and a threshold based on income should be set.

As the travel and tourism sector recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be essential to ensure that STRs remain an asset for local communities across Europe and that clear rules are established to avoid fragmentation and challenges for all actors involved in this space. eu travel tech looks forward to contributing to this important initiative.