Prague outlines stricter stand on booming Airbnb offers

A City Hall working group has outlined measures to clamp down on the rocking offer of rooms and flats for tourist rents in the capital.

Photo: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0 1.0Photo: Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine, CC0 1.0 Prague City Hall has sent a clear message to those offering rooms and flats on Airbnb and other providers that it will more strictly enforce their responsibilities in the future. A working group this week recommended council leaders tackle problems linked with the booming rental sector saying abuses already cost the city around 120 million crowns a year.

In recent years, Prague has seen a huge surge in the number of people offering their rooms or apartments for rent. Over the past five years, Airbnb and other similar platforms are estimated to have increased their offer 20-fold. Currently, Prague is estimated to be offering around 14,000 flats and rooms for short stays.

Jan Wolf, photo: archive of Prague City Hall Jan Wolf, photo: archive of Prague City Hall Prague councillors warn that the surge in tourist apartments is driving up rents and excluding locals from the centre of the city. Councillor Jan Wolf is in charge of tourism and a specific working group aiming to tackle the problem:

“At the moment, we simply want to raise awareness of the current legislation. There will be a large banner on our website highlighting the rights and obligations of both accommodation providers and their clients. They will also find all kinds of information there, such as where to send the fees or where to register their visitors.

“If the situation does not improve, then we are ready to introduce stricter measures, like other cities around the world, such as Berlin and Barcelona.”

Under the current rules, accommodation providers are required to pay tourist and spa fees or pay taxes on their earnings, but according to Jan Wolf, only about five percent of them actually comply with those obligations:

“The City Hall annually collects around 250 million crowns from hotel-owners and other accommodators. According to our survey, around 100,000 crowns a year from shared accommodation are not declared.

Illustrative photo: Polygon Homes via Foter.com / CC BY-NCIllustrative photo: Polygon Homes via Foter.com / CC BY-NC “At the moment there are about 10,000 to 14,000 rooms in Prague, and they are rented for an average of 120 days a year and are occupied by an average of three people. That means we lose around 120 million crowns a year and the state loses even more on taxes.”

Cities such as Berlin, Barcelona or Amsterdam, have already introduced strict measures to tackle the problems linked with such rents.

In Berlin and Barcelona, for instance, landlords can let individual rooms as long as they use at least half of the apartment for themselves, while in Amsterdam, sharing private homes or flats is limited to 60 days a year.

If the situation in Prague does not improve, similar measures have been highlighted as options for the future.