International Finance

France’s Airbnb case: EU adviser sides with home renting service

Airbnb Europe, Airbnb ECJ, Airbnb European ruling
A formal ruling, which should arrive in two to four months, is likely to favour Airbnb in the France case

On France’s complaint with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for the application of French real estate agent law on Airbnb, a European Union adviser at ECJ sided with the company.

The ECJ adviser said that Airbnb should be treated as digital services provider free to operate across Europe. The French tourism association AhTop had complained that Airbnb was breaking the so-called Hoguet Law applicable to real estate agents.

ECJ judges typically follow their advisers non-binding ruling and a similar outcome is expected on France’s complaint against Airbnb. A formal ruling is now expected in two to four months.

The US-based home renting service claimed that the ECJ adviser’s opinion had provided clarity over what rules actually applied.

Airbnb had advocated that the Hoguet Law is incompatible with an earlier EU directive on ‘information society services.’ An investigating judge in Paris had asked for an ECJ ruling on the right interpretation of the law.

“A service such as that provided by the Airbnb portal constitutes an information society service,” advocate general Maciej Szpunar told the media. Szpunar said the Airbnb should benefit from the EU’s free flow of information.

France is Airbnb’s second biggest market after the US. Airbnb has 65,000 homes listed on it in Paris, making it the home renting service’s single biggest market.

Several city governments have sought tighter restrictions on Airbnb. This is based on the assumption that the service has made certain city zones sterile, tourist only areas.

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