EU court: Airbnb isn’t a real estate agency

Airbnb won court case over French real-estate rules (Credit: Airbnb and iStock)
Airbnb won court case over French real-estate rules (Credit: Airbnb and iStock)

A European Union court ruled on Thursday that Airbnb does not have to comply with French real estate laws.

French authorities questioned whether the online housing provider had to be treated like a normal real estate agency. Uber Technologies Inc. went through a similar debacle when it was determined by a separate EU ruling that the ride sharing app must be regulated like a normal taxi service.

The rule in question was a French law known as Hoguet, which was created to help regulate the real estate market and enforces criminal charges if found in violation of Hoguet.

Airbnb, which has drawn the ire of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, has been dealing with a range of problems in the U.S., with numerous cities taking actions to put limitations on short-term apartment rentals. It also vowed to manually inspect 7 million listings across the globe following an expose of scammers by Vice News, as well as a fatal shooting at a listing in California last month.

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The company is planning to go public next year through a direct listing, and the EU court decision will allow the app to “move forward and continue working with cities on clear rules,” Airbnb said to Bloomberg.

“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,” the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Though it’s a victory for Airbnb, the group that brought the suit viewed the ruling as a positive.

“We filed our complaint in 2015, and France has since introduced new regulations that apply also to Airbnb,” said an official at France’s Association for Professional Tourism and Accommodation. “Eventually Airbnb is going to be regulated in France, just not as a real estate agent at this point.” [Bloomberg]Jacqueline Flynn