Airbnb will be breathing a sigh of relief today: Europe’s top court has judged it to be an online platform, which merely connects people looking for short-term accommodation, rather than a full-blown estate agent.
The ruling may make it harder for the “home sharing” platform to be forced to comply with local property regulations — at least under current regional rules governing e-commerce platforms.
The judgement by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) today follows a complaint made by a French tourism association, AHTOP, which had argued Airbnb should hold a professional estate agent licence. And, that by not having one, the platform giant was in breach of a piece of French legislation known as the “Hoguet Law.”
However, the court disagreed — siding with Airbnb’s argument that its business must be classified as an “information society service” under EU Directive 2000/31 on electronic commerce.
Commenting on the ruling in a statement, Luca Tosoni, a research fellow at the Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law at the University of Oslo, told us: “The Court’s finding that online platforms that facilitate the provision of short-term accommodation services, such as Airbnb, qualify as providers of ‘information society services’ entails strict limitations on the ability to introduce or enforce restrictive measures on similar services by a Member State other than that in whose territory the relevant service provider is established.”
Amsterdam was hoping to make Airbnb collect tourist taxes too, which the county of Amsterdam will now have to do themselves. Also, Amsterdam – a 100% tourist city – is now whining that it doesn’t want tourists any more and is blaming Airbnb for having them.