Updates: 09/29/2021 11:31 AM
Released: 29.09.2021, 11:31
Prague – The Prague authorities imposed a fine of 20,000 crowns on the first owner of an apartment for violating building regulations during short-term accommodation of guests via the Airbnb platform. The councilor of Prague for Housing, Hana Marvanová (for STAN), told the press. In the opinion of the city management, the apartments must follow the same rules as hotels in this way. The municipality has launched a free legal advice on the topic and is pushing for legislative changes.
According to data from foreign websites dealing with the analysis of short-term accommodation, there are about 13,600 flats rented for short periods via digital Airbnb platforms in Prague and 3,600 flats in Prague 1 alone, said Ondřej Boháč, director of the Municipal Institute of Planning and Development.
The negative consequences of using flats for short-term accommodation are criticized by both Prague municipalities and local residents. Petr Městecký, chairman of the Tolerable Housing Association in the center of Prague, lodged a complaint with the building authority on the basis of which the fine was imposed last January. He has long advocated that the use of apartments in this way is illegal. “It’s not about renting, it’s about providing accommodation services, ie business,” he said today.
The decision on the fine was issued by the Prague 1 Building Authority and, after a review in August this year, was confirmed by the municipality. According to Marvan, it is necessary to set a precedent that confirmed the legal analysis of the municipality and the ombudsman’s office. “Fines can be imposed repeatedly, they can reach up to half a million crowns,” says the councilor.
She added that the city is trying to get the Ministry of Regional Development to issue a methodological instruction, which would provide the building authorities with decisions in similar cases. According to her, it will help to do so if there are more similar decisions. “We would like residents or property owners who suffer from this problem to contact our counseling center, where they will receive specific legal advice to file a complaint with the building authorities,” she said. She added that in the summer she had requested a meeting with the Ministry, Klára Dostálová (for YES), but this had not yet taken place.
The councilors further recommend that, based on the opinion of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the trade unions will also begin to enforce the obligation for houses with flats provided via external platforms to be marked. According to the councilor, the problem is that the city does not know where the apartments are located, even because the platforms refuse despite the approval of the legal obligation to provide city information. This is also the reason why people should report their negative experiences to the authorities. “Without suggestions from residents, we won’t even know where the problem is,” Marvan said.
Helena Valtrová, the director of the Emblem Hotel in the center of Prague, states that providers of classic accommodation facilities have to fulfill a number of costly obligations, which make owners become providers via platforms without any guarantee. According to her, these are, for example, mandatory annual inspections, adjustments resulting from fire and hygiene standards or the obligation to report all foreign visitors to the Aliens Police. She added that hotels also fill in statistics on tourism, which, however, are basically useless without the inclusion of guests in apartments.
The capital is enforcing a law in the Chamber of Deputies that would allow local governments to restrict the provision of flats via accommodation platforms. The city has already submitted it to the Chamber of Deputies, but the current one has not discussed it, according to Marvanová. “I believe the new House will find time for that,” she said. Other proposals in Prague include strengthening the powers of the community of unit owners so that it can reduce this use of flats.