For many of us, turning a spare room into hard cash seems too good to be true – and in Paris, it is. A court ruling has left one hapless resident of the city’s 9th arrondissement out of pocket to the tune of €2,842.
Airbnb is at the heart of the problem. The website puts potential guests in touch with people who sometimes let part or all of their homes.
In the recent case, the defendant had been renting out a room in his flat through the website, charging visitors a tidy €450 a week to stay there. Both he and his guests had been reaping the benefits of the move. The cost of a room in a three-star hotel in the area, near popular tourist destinations such as the Opéra and Galéries Lafayette, would have been much higher.
However, French law forbids leases shorter than 12 months, unless the local mairie has given written consent. A court in Paris has now ruled that by subletting a room in his home to tourists the defendant was contravening the terms of his lease.
Airbnb was founded in San Francisco six years ago. Since launching in France, more than one million people have used the service to rent a room or an apartment. Paris, inevitably, has taken the lion’s share of those bookings.
Many believe that the site promotes tax evasion by allowing hosts to take payment in cash – and robs flat owners of an additional income.
However, let’s be honest: given the sky-high rents charged by landlords in Paris, it is hard to feel too sorry for them.