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Airbnb not subject to estate agency or lettings agency rules, says EU

The European Union’s highest court has ruled that Airbnb is not subject to strict rules governing estate and lettings agents in France in what is seen as a major test case.

An association of hotels in France, called the Association for Professional Tourism and Accommodation, bought the legal case after accusing the short lets global giant Airbnb of unfair competition; the APTA complained that Airbnb was acting as an estate agency without a licence, contravening French legislation known as the Hoguet Law.

Instead, the association wanted the court to rule that Airbnb should follow the insurance and accounting rules imposed on estate agents across the Channel.


However, the EU Court of Justice has ruled that Airbnb is an “information society service” and therefore it is inappropriate for France to require the website to hold the same status or legal requirements as a lettings or estate agent.

The court decision is seen as a win for Airbnb as it attempts to clarify its status with major cities around the world after a series of conflicts, usually over the generally unregulated activities on individual Airbnb hosts.

Airbnb says the decision allows it to “move forward and continue working with cities on clear rules … We want to be good partners to everyone and already we have worked with more than 500 governments to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax.”

Two years ago the European Union Court of Justice ruled that Uber was not simply an “information society service” - the term it’s now used about Airbnb.

Instead, the CJEU then said that Uber set its fares for passengers and assigned each passenger a driver; Airbnb by contrast did not choose a property for its customers, nor did it tell hosts how much to charge customers for a stay.


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