For those looking to make some extra cash, the ease of being able to rent out their spare room or property at the tap of a button (without the red tape of being a landlord) has given rise to the number of Airbnb hosts.
There are over 4 million people using the accommodation-sharing platform in more than 100,000 cities around the world.
But one city has fallen out of love with the app.
Florence, one of Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, is now planning to ban property owners from turning to short-term rental platforms like Airbnb—as a way to help solve its housing crisis.
Short-term rentals driving a housing crisis
As students in Florence camp out in tents on campuses to protest a lack of affordable housing, its mayor criticized the central government’s “completely ineffective” crackdown on rental homes that were driving high rent and impacting housing availability.
“The housing emergency has become a national emergency, at the top of the agenda of many cities in our country,” the Tuscan city’s mayor, Dario Nardella, stressed while pointing to over-tourism and the explosion of short-term holiday lettings as the key drivers of the crisis.
In response, Nardella has taken matters into his own hands, announcing yesterday that new proposals will be passed by the local government to block any new short-term rentals.
His measures, dubbed “saving historic downtowns”, won’t impact properties already active on Airbnb or similar.
But, according to local Italian newspapers, the measures ban homeowners at the Unesco site from listing their property on the likes of Airbnb from now going forwards.
What’s more, the mayor plans to tempt current short-term holiday home hosts to convert their places back to long-term rentals with tax breaks.
Under the plan, property taxes on a second home would be canceled for up to three years, potentially adding up to thousands of euros in savings, for landlords that stop using the likes of Airbnb.
A global issue
Florence isn’t the only city where homes are being held hostage by those wanting to profit from holidaymakers.
Cities in the U.S., Portugal, Spain, Britain, Canada, France, and more are complaining that the highly profitable holiday lettings market has created a supply shortage, driven up rent, forced out residents, and resulted in “ghost towns”.
One popular coastal hotspot in the U.K, Cornwall, has 20 times more properties available on Airbnb than it has for long-term rent. Meanwhile, in New York City last April, the number of rental homes available was around 7,669 compared to over 10,500 Airbnb rentals, according to AirDNA.
It’s driven many cities, including New York City, to draft restrictions on short-term rentals similar to the ones proposed by Nardella.
But unsurprisingly this hasn’t gone down well with Airbnb.
The San Francisco-based online marketplace for holiday homes yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Big Apple over the new law which it described as a “de facto ban” against short-term rentals.