25 November 2016 – Expansión
Airbnb and HomeAway are going to be fined €600,000 each by the Town Hall of Barcelona. The Town Hall, led by Ada Colau (pictured above), will fine both tourist accommodation platforms for continuing to advertise unlicensed apartments.
The mayoress of the city announced the decision yesterday, explaining that the fines will be imposed because both companies have ignored the Town Hall’s request to stop advertising illegal tourist apartments and provide data about the properties.
The first fine amounted to €30,000 for each technological company, but given that both portals continued their activity, the classification of the infringement has now been upgraded from serious to very serious, and the fine has increased to €600,000 for each firm, the maximum permitted under the Tourism Law.
The files have already been signed and the firms will be notified about the fines shortly. The amount of the sanction will reflect: the number of adverts published – 3,812 in the case of Airbnb and 1,744 in the case of HomeAway, according to the Town Hall –; the economic benefit they obtain; their dominant position in the market; and the recurrence of the infringement.
A fine of €30,000 has been maintained for other portals, including: Fotocasa, Open House, TripAdvisor, OnlyApartments, 9flats, Niumba and Rent4days.
The US platform Airbnb, led in Spain by Arnaldo Muñoz in Barcelona, announced its decision to appeal the fine.
“This is a sad decision and Airbnb is going to appeal; less than a month ago a meeting was held between representatives of the Town Hall and Airbnb, where it was agreed that we would work together to support the city’s interests”, said the portal in a statement. Sources at the platform consider that “Airbnb is part of the solution in Barcelona, we want to be a strong ally in the cities in which we operate and we will continue to seek open dialogue with the Town Hall”.
According to Airbnb, there are contradictions in Barcelona’s tourist policies, which favour commercial operators and apartments dedicated solely to tourism in tourist areas, to the detriment of people who want to open up their own homes.
“We have to differentiate between professionals who operate lots of tourist apartments and individuals who rent out their homes from time to time”, say sources at Airbnb. The portal regrets that “Barcelona is resisting what is happening in most other cities in the world”. The portal has reached agreements with more than 200 cities and regions.
Original story: Expansión (by Tina Díaz)
Translation: Carmel Drake