Understand the home-sharing website Airbnb, including the latest French rules, and follow our top tips for using it to rent out your property in France
What is Airbnb?
Online home rental company Airbnb began in 2008 when co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia launched a website to rent out two airbeds in their San Francisco apartment (hence the name, which stood for ‘airbed and breakfast’), in order to earn some extra money.
Eight years on, and more than 200 million people have rented accommodation through the site, which now boasts well over 4 million listings. It’s an online commmunity that connects people who want to rent their homes with people who are seeking accommodation. The site makes it possible for tourists to find cheap accommodation in desirable locations, offering both a budget-friendly solution for those travelling on a shoestring and an authentic experience of life in a particular area.
How does Airbnb work?
Hosts list their space, which could be anything from a single room to a whole apartment or house, a yacht or even a château, for free on the website – and decide how much they want to charge. Guests can search the site’s entire database of properties by entering details about when and where they’d like to travel, and can further refine their search by property type, price, amenities and even host language. To book accommodation, users need to create an Airbnb profile and can contact the host using an online form that appears with each listing.
A 5-15% service fee is added to the accommodation cost, and Airbnb holds a guest’s payment for 24 hours after check-in before releasing the money to the host, in order to provide peace of mind and avoid problems with fake listings.
Is Airbnb popular in France?
France has become Airbnb’s second biggest market with more than 485,000 listings, and Paris is the most popular city in the world for Airbnb listings.
New rules for Airbnb hosts in France
1. Tax rules
Airbnb met with considerable opposition from the hotel industry who feel this is unfair competition as Airbnb hosts are subject to the taxes and regulations traditional hotels are. This has been combatted by the French government with the introduction of a new tax law: those who use the site to earn rental income must be treated as ‘professionals’ and therefore pay taxes to the French government, but with a cap in place of €23,000 per year. Therefore, those who rent out their apartments while on holiday or when they go away for a weekend should not be affected, only those who use Airbnb to rent out their property for most of the year.
A new law requires Airbnb to send tax data to the French aithorities directly, rather than leaving it up to the individuals who are using the site to declare it. The tighter controls were introduced after a hotel lobbying group convinced the country’s parliament to pass the law in an effort to curb Airbnb’s growth in France.
2. The French tourist tax
Airbnb reached an agreement with Paris authorities to begin collecting the tourist tax (taxe de séjour). Airbnb properties are now classified under the rental category of furnished lets or meublés touristiques non-classés, and a charge of up to €4.40 per person per night is added when users book a stay in Paris, rather than hosts having to collect and pay the tax themselves. This was gradually extended to cover the other French cities with Airbnb listings. You can check how much the tourist tax is in each French city here.
3. Maximum rental of 120 days per year
Under French law, homeowners are allowed to sub-let their main residence as short-term lets for a maximum of 120 days a year and are required to seek permission from the local authority to offer short-term lets. So anyone wishing to list their French property on Airbnb must register it with the authorities and display their registration number on their listing. Airbnb have announced that they will automatically limit rentals on its site to 120 days in central Paris and the government has also announced plans to fine Airbnb for publishing listings that are not registered with the local authorities.
4 top tips for renting your French property on Airbnb…
1. Be honest – provide a truthful description of the space you have to rent and include details of the facilities your guest will have access to
2. Take good photos – show off the space you want to rent and make the most of what’s unique about it
3. Be helpful – provide maps and information on nearby attractions, and offer essentials such as tea, coffee and a bottle of water
4. Be assured by Airbnb’s Host Guarantee – this provides protection for up to £600,000 of damage to an eligible property, but does not cover cash, pets, personal liability or shared/communal areas.
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