Ignore or excuse. Platforms providing short-term rentals have largely decided not to provide the capital with information about their business, I must say that they are required to do so by law. For example, Prague wanted information on how many flats and where to rent, how many people were accommodated or how much they charged for the platform for a certain period. Of the eighteen Slovak companies, only one complied. The new legislation has not changed anything either, and Prague councilors are clueless.
“Unfortunately, after two years of experience with this issue, I expected something similar, because even when dealing with online platforms, such as Airbnb, there was a clear reluctance to provide cooperation and information necessary to enforce compliance with the law,” says Prague councilor for legislation and housing support Hana Kordová Marvanová (STAN / United Forces).
Already in the year the parliament passed an amendment to the law, which sets obligations for online platforms for accommodation services. Immediately afterwards, the Prague city districts began sending out calls to the platforms and requesting the information from them. They had one goal – to enforce the law against accommodation providers.
Result: 7 did not respond, 10 did not provide information
For service intermediaries, including platforms that provide short-term accommodation services, the amendment to the Act obliges municipal trade licensing authorities to provide information on the number of concluded contracts, total prices for these services for certain periods, addresses of places to which services are provided, and Service providers, within 30 days of receipt of calls.
The trade unions of the city districts sent out calls to 18 platforms, of which a total of 8 are registered in the Czech Republic and the rest are based abroad, four of which are outside the European Union.
However, the result was more than sad, says Kordová Marvanová. The first problem was to find delivery addresses at all. Seven participants did not react at all, 11 other subjects received responses, but only provided the required information, and it was not a specific one of the major online platforms.
The most common reason for refusing to provide information was a reference to the general GDPR regulation. However, according to the capital, this reason is not supported by any legal regulation.
Let the European Union help
According to Councilor Kordová Marvanová, the only option left is to get the platforms to provide the required information. This is the introduction of Europe-wide rules at European Union level. This would, according to the below reach across platforms such as Airbnb or Booking.com, enforce obligations. According to Kordová Marvanová, municipal trade unions can also use other tools, but without supranational rules it will be so difficult.
In addition to enforcing compliance with the obligations of providers of short-term accommodation services, Prague also wants to enforce changes that will enable municipalities to regulate this business activity.
An amendment to the Trade Licensing Act, approved by the Prague City Council in its first year, is awaiting discussion in the Chamber of Deputies.
Among other things, the city is currently preparing a legal analysis of existing building regulations. If the apartment units will be used in the long term for short-term rent, you will have to ask the owner to re-approve the apartment, says Kordová Marvanová.
“All these measures are aimed at being prepared for the period after the end of the pandemic, able to enforce legal obligations, be able to resolve complaints from local citizens and prevent unwanted depopulation of the city center,” said councilor Hana Kordová Marvanová.
Interest in short-term rents fell by 45 percent
The number of apartments for short-term rent, especially of the Airbnb type, on the Prague market fell by 45 percent to 6,216 from March to the end of last year, according to AirDNA data. The number is the lowest in the last three years since it records the data. According to experts in the field of reality, the decline in housing units intended for short-term accommodation is the reason why rental prices in the center of Prague fell by 20 to 40 percent.
On Monday, March 1, one year will pass since the first officially detected case of coronavirus in the Czech Republic. The final measures against its spread practically stopped the arrival of foreign tourists. They used short-term Airbnb leases, especially in Prague. After some relaxation in the summer months, a new wave of tightening came in the autumn.
Short-term accommodation platforms face criticism not only in the Czech Republic for various reasons, the most common arguments of Prague critics are negative effects on the availability of housing in the metropolis and the fact that permanent residents often complain about the behavior of apartment guests.