Short-term rentals: EU legislation should help keep their impact on local life and businesses at bay

In a newly adopted opinion on the European Commission's regulation on short-term accommodation rental through online platforms, the EESC stresses that national and local authorities should be urged to carry out impact assessments to see how such activities are affecting the lives of local residents and businesses such as hotels and other hospitality facilities.

The EESC would like to see the Commission recommend that national and local authorities periodically assess how STR activities are impacting:

  • local tourism potential;
  • the lives of local residents;
  • accommodation available for long-term rental;
  • the local housing market;
  • the cost of living in the area;
  • employment;
  • pollution;
  • respect for local traditions;
  • businesses, either directly or indirectly.

The recent boom in short-term rentals through online platforms, which now amounts to about a quarter of all tourist accommodation in the EU, has put strain on several communities. While some lesser-known regions and cities have gained from the development of local tourism through more affordable STRs, more popular tourist destinations are reaching breaking point. In Venice and Florence or Barcelona, to name a few, competition has set hotels and other conventional establishments on a collision course with Airbnb and other online platforms and brought local life close to congestion.

What we found interesting are the potential spill-over effects of the regulation", said Marinel Dănuț Mureșan, rapporteur for the opinion. "Although the regulation itself is only about collecting and sharing data on short-term accommodation at EU level, indirectly, if national authorities can get this data from the platforms, we can obtain some more substantial results. The impact assessments would be a key tool for policymakers.

The EESC also suggested a system of insurance policies to be taken up by hosts. These could replace burdensome authorisation procedures for accommodation units, which the regulation says local authorities should avoid imposing on STR businesses but does not say how. The insurance policies envisaged by the EESC would cover the bulk of risks arising from STR activities, leaving it to insurers to verify host compliance with the rules.

Other EESC proposals to improve the regulation include a simplified registration process with a uniform, pan-EU format and a standardised approach to the level of information required for all STR activities. This would help national and local authorities take decisions in line with the interests of the communities concerned, facilitate data sharing, boost compliance and enable authorities to take appropriate action based on analyses at EU and local level.

The opinion was adopted at the EESC plenary session on 22 February by 190 votes to 0 with 4 abstentions.

Read the full opinion.

Read the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services and amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1724.