Airbnb has a fairly simple business model – it lists available spaces for rents which ‘guests’, or tourists, can rent out for their brief stay in a given city. Currently, Airbnb has 4191 listings for Amsterdam, evidently one of the most popular spots in whole of Europe. But Amsterdam authorities are considering a ban on Airbnb.
The chief bone of contention between Airbnb and Amsterdam authorities is that there are apparently thousands of such rented out spaces in the city which are not officially allowed to do so. As it is, renting out a space makes it a commercial property on which certain taxes are applicable. But many residents secretly rent out their spaces without paying the taxes, thus violating the law.
The argument cited by Airbnb is that the liability of following local laws falls on the users and not on the company. The service defends itself by stating that it merely allows a user to list a space available for rent and that it is not responsible for investigating the legality of the listing.
But Amsterdam authorities have refused to admit that line of reasoning. The authorities seem all set to launch a crack-down on illegal rent-out spaces in the city next week. A team of civil servants will apparently go from street to street to check out such illegal rentals.
The definition of an illegal hotel or rent-out space, as stated by the authorities, is ‘an apartment or house without an official hotel permit that can be rented by tourists in return for money.’ Although the authorities seem to be move towards a point where they may altogether ban Airbnb, even a crackdown like the one planned by them may damage the credibility of the service.