Portal Airbnb Fined With €30.000 in Catalonia

8/07/2014 – Expansion

A year after settling down in Barcelona, Airbnb received a 30.000 Euro fine – the legal maximum – from the Catalonian Government (Generalitat). What is more, the portal must immediately stop trading property not apt for holiday rental. Otherwise, the Mayor will block the access to the website for the Catalonian users. This is the first sanction imposed on a dot-com in Europe.

Felip Puig from the Enteprise and Employment Department explained the firm was fined for “unfair competence and black economy” in the holiday apartment sector as the U.S. portal gives no guarantee it pays the VAT and the tourist tax.

Founded in 2008 by Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb is an online platform allowing its users (both owners and tourists) to swap their accommodations which are not registered in the tourist registry of Catalonia.

The firm operates in 192 countries, offering 500.000 available lodgings and reaching €2.5 billion in business volume.  Sources from Airbnb assure that the company created 4.000 jobs and generated €128 million in Barcelona last year.

Yesterday´s court decision will, according to them, “hamper its growth in Barcelona”. Also, they claim the city “is not open to innovation”.

 Aside from Airbnb, Generalitat brought to trial another 18 webpages due to their alleged non-regulatable activity. Sanction on 8 of them will affect 2.100 dwellings. More than 100 other records have been opened and over €0.5 million collected in fees.

 

Original article: Expansión (by T. Díaz)

Translation: AURA REE

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