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Airbnb Wins EU Court Case Over French Real-Estate Rules

Airbnb Wins EU Court Case Over French Real-Estate Rules

The Court said that Airbnb can’t be regulated like a real estate agency with online services.

(Bloomberg)—Airbnb Inc. can’t be regulated like a real estate agency that offers its services online, the European Union’s top court said in a French case that questioned whether the online platform could be forced to comply with strict local rules.

The EU Court of Justice said in a decision in Luxembourg on Thursday that French authorities hadn’t properly notified the EU Commission about the rules.

The ruling is in contrast with a separate case concerning Uber Technologies Inc., where the EU top court ruled that the online car-sharing service has to be regulated like a taxi service. An adviser to the EU court said in a non-binding opinion in April that Airbnb is different and can’t be treated like a normal real estate agent.

The court decision is a win for Airbnb as it tries to resolve regulatory issues with cities in advance of its stock market listing next year.

Airbnb said that the court decision will allow it to “move forward and continue working with cities on clear rules.”

“We want to be good partners to everyone and already we have worked with more than 500 governments to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax,” the San Francisco-based company said in a statement.

In a spat with a French tourism and hotel association trying to force stricter rules on Airbnb, a French court had sought the EU judges’ view on how the online service provider, which is managed from Ireland, has to be treated under the bloc’s e-commerce rules.

Specifically, they wanted to know whether a French law, called Hoguet, which regulates the real estate profession in France and can lead to criminal sanctions for any violations, can be imposed on Airbnb Ireland.

But the hotel group also said the ruling was positive because it merely focused on a procedural issue.

“We filed our complaint in 2015, and France has since introduced new regulations that apply also to Airbnb,” said Quentin Michelon, an official at the French hotel group. “Eventually Airbnb is going to be regulated in France, just not as a real estate agent at this point.”

The case is: C-390/18 - Airbnb Ireland.

--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak and Helene Fouquet.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at [email protected].

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at [email protected]

Peter Chapman

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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