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Top EU Court Rules Airbnb is Not a Real Estate Agency

Dominique Adams

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Airbnb

The EU’s top court has ruled that the housesharing site is an online platform and not a property agent. 

Airbnb has a won a major victory at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which means the company will not be subjected to the same regulations as a real estate agency that offers it services online.

The ruling follows a complaint made by French tourism association that the company did not comply with French property law.

Both the French tourism and hotel association were seeking to determine whether French law, called Hoguet, could lead to criminal penalties for any violations, and if they can be imposed on Ireland-based Airbnb.

The CJEU said in its decision that the French authorities had not properly notified the RU Commission about the rules. Had the court ruled against Airbnb it would have set a precedent for other EU regulators.

The court said its decision to rule in favour of the company was based on its determination that the company was an “information society service” rather than a real estate agent.

The ruling is also significant as the International Olympic Committee had agreed to promote the platform for accommodation during the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

“The nature of the links between the intermediation service and the provision of accommodation did not justify departing from the classification of that intermediation service as an ‘information society service’,” the CJEU said.

In response to the ruling, Airbnb said in a statement: “We want to be good partners to everyone and already we have worked with more than 500 governments to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax”.

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The case comes as the company is working to resolve regulatory issues with cities ahead of its stock market listing next year.

The hotel association has said the ruling is a positive one because it focused on the procedural issue.

“We filed our complaint in 2015, and France has since introduced new regulations that apply also to Airbnb,” said Quentin Michelon, an official at the French hotel group. “Eventually Airbnb is going to be regulated in France, just not as a real estate agent at this point.”

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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