French cities are working to ruin Airbnb's summer

Lucas Barioulet/AFP via Getty ImagesClick play to hear this article from Amazon PollyPARIS France's mayors have turned the screws on short-term rental platforms as France travels for its summer vacation.In just a few weeks, several French cities have placed new restrictions on short-term accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, Abritel,, and Paris is preparing for more.COVID is an opportunity to confirm the declining trend in tourist rentals. POLITICO has now received evidence that Airbnb can have an effect on housing. This is according to Ian Brossat (Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo's deputy housing).Cities across Europe are happy to live with less Airbnb, as the COVID crisis effectively drove large areas of tourist activity from cities.Airbnb's second largest market is France. The platform is increasingly looking at rural areas to reduce its dependence on regulations-heavy cities. Airbnb announced Wednesday that 45 percent of its summer bookings are made in France's rural regions, as opposed to 24 percent in 2019.Airbnb's rural strategy looks more prescient after a number of French cities including tourist hotspots Nice and Saint-Malo adopted or considered new restrictions over the past three weeks.A Paris court ordered that Airbnb pay an 8 million penalty to the city for allowing postings on its platform without registration numbers. Airbnb also announced that hosts will have to register in order to rent apartments in Paris. Otherwise, guests won't be able book their accommodations. This requirement will also be implemented in other French cities by the end the year.Airbnb claimed Thursday's ruling would have no effect on its Paris business since it already has mandatory listing registration. Airbnb said that the court's decision was not conclusive and they are considering appealing. Airbnb declined to comment about the new rules.Southern crack downFour southern cities threatened or adopted new restrictions in June for tourists renting to limit the supply of short-term housing.Montpellier voted to restrict the number of Airbnb second homes that can be rented to households to one after years of lobbying from the hotel industry. This was to stop people buying homes and renting them out on the short-term rental marketplace. All listings on platforms like Airbnb will need a registration number in the long-term, just as it is for larger cities like Paris.Marseille, France's second largest city, agreed to limit second home rentals to one and make it harder to convert housing into temporary tourist accommodation.Christian Estrosi of Nice, an Airbnb opponent, stated earlier this year that his city would limit permissions in order to prevent a large influx of tourists. New regulations have also been considered by Ajaccio, the mayor of Corsican Capital.The touristic town Saint-Malo in Brittany has also imposed quotas for tourist accommodations. Homeowners will only be allowed to convert one dwelling for short-term rental purposes.It is not clear when these efforts will be successful.Dominique Debuire, president of the National Union for the Promotion of Holiday Rentals (a trade group representing platforms like Abritel, Airbnb and others), said that the new push would not have an effect on this year's summer seasons and that the effects will be clearer in six to a year.He said that municipalities face a difficult choice between the attraction of tourist and the satisfaction of residents in city centers. For which, it can be hard to find accommodation.There are more to comeFrench cities have yet to embrace Airbnb.The government issued a long-awaited executive directive last month that made it more difficult for property owners to convert commercial properties such as offices or warehouses into tourist accommodation.According to Le Parisien, 89,000 square metres of Paris' commercial space has been converted into hotels since 2015.Cities with registration-number requirements will be able to veto conversions. They will first need to establish the rules and vote on when properties can be converted. Brossat in Paris plans to hold a vote for the city council by the end the year. The rules will then apply in 2022.Paris wants to control how long homeowners can rent their main home, as well as the ability to ban tourist rentals from certain areas. The city has proposed amendments to a bill to give greater power to local authorities. This bill is currently being discussed in parliament.It is not clear if Paris' push for reform will succeed. The French National Assembly and Senate have a different majority than the capital's city council. Furthermore, the government is opposed to lowering the 120-day limit on renting a main home.Parisians are content with the current rules, not to mention their own happiness.Do you want more analysis from POLITICO POLITICO Pro, our premium intelligence service, is for professionals. Pro provides real-time intelligence, deep insight, and the breaking scoops that you need to stay one step ahead of your competition in every area, including financial services, trade, technology and cybersecurity. To request a free trial, email [email protected].