Paris is one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in the world, with about 65,000 homes listed on its website. But Ian Brossat, who’s in charge of housing at City Hall, takes no pride in such a distinction.
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He has been the face of the fight against home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb in Paris. Indeed, Brossat is publishing this week a book called "Airbnb, or the Uberised City,” in which he discusses the action he has taken to regulate the sector.
In an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien Thursday, Brossat made a radical proposition: prohibiting the rental of entire apartments via Airbnb and other platforms in central Paris. Tourists would be able to rent a room in an apartment, for instance, but not the entire unit.
Some of the most popular sites in Paris such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum are located in these areas.
About 20,000 apartments have been transformed into short-term tourist rentals since the Airbnb boom in the French capital five years ago, according to City Hall.
Brossat argues that the U.S. company is forcing residents out of the French city because rents have increased significantly in tourist areas.
Strong measures are needed to keep the city from becoming an "open-air museum,” Brossat said.
"Do we want Paris to be a city which the middle classes can afford, or do we want it to be a playground for Saudi or American billionaires?" he told the French newspaper.
Airbnb France condemned Brossat’s proposition. "This scheme would steal opportunities from thousands of middle-class families to feed the wealthy hotel lobby and help protect its profits,” the company said in a statement.
“But while the Deputy Mayor uses his time in office to clamp down on opportunities for local families and write books that champion the views of the hotel lobby, Airbnb is building a platform that 1 in 5 Parisians use to travel the world, boost their income and afford rising living costs in their communities, where housing capacity has failed to meet demand for decades.” the statement added.
Paris officials have already taken action against Airbnb and other platforms, requiring residents who sublet their homes on Airbnb to obtain a registration number for each listed property. This measure was taken to adhere to a French rule that limits the number of rentals to 120 nights a year. Until now, the law punished landlords for illegal renting but not platforms. That is likely to change in the next few months.
A new law, supported by the French government, is being discussed in Parliament. The bill will introduce fines for platforms that don‘t remove illegal listings.
Fines could amount to $58,000 for such companies. Airbnb, for instance, could be fined if it publishes listings with no registration numbers.
Timothée de Roux, director of Homeaway France and president of an organization that represents Airbnb and similar services like his, said the sanctions included in the pending law go overboard.
“This bill is being added to many measures adopted recently that are very constraining for our sector,” he told ABC News. “I regret the stigmatization of our platforms. We largely contribute to the tourist attractiveness of France.”