Airbnb and other rental platforms agree to share data with European Commission

Airbnb and other rental platforms agree to share data with European Commission

The European Union has reached a data-sharing agreement with Airbnb and other short-term vacation rental platforms, offering new avenues to track their impact on local housing markets, according to TechCrunch.

The commission says the “landmark agreement” will “allow public authorities to better understand the development of the collaborative economy and support evidence-based policies.” 

The agreement includes Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and TripAdvisor.

The commission says the move will help authorities in Europe promote a more balanced regulatory approach to vacation rentals, amid rising concerns that the rentals are exacerbating housing problems for local communities by crowding out space for long-term occupants, and driving rental prices up. 

The platforms will soon begin regularly sharing data on the number of nights booked and number of guests in rentals, to be aggregated by municipality and shared with Eurostat, which will publish the first set of statistics later this year. A later data-sharing phase will include additional types of data, including the number of properties rented, and the proportion that are whole properties versus rooms in occupied properties. This data in particular will help track the impact on housing markets.

“Tourism is a key economic activity in Europe. Short-term accommodation rentals offer convenient solutions for tourists and new sources of revenue for people. At the same time, there are concerns about impact on local communities,” according to Thierry Breton, the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services. 

“For the first time, we are gaining reliable data that will inform our ongoing discussions with cities across Europe on how to address this new reality in a balanced manner. The Commission will continue to support the great opportunities of the collaborative economy, while helping local communities address the challenges posed by these rapid changes.”

Major European cities including Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Barcelona have made efforts to restrict Airbnb and similar platforms, aiming to limit their impact on communities. But a December ruling by the European Court of Justice designated Airbnb an online platform instead of an estate agent, making it tougher for cities to regulate. 

But a new Digital Services Act later this year could open tech platforms to new forms of regulations. 

In an open letter to the court before its ruling, ten cities said “a carte blanche for holiday rental platforms is not the solution,” and called for “strong legal obligations for platforms to cooperate with us in registration-schemes and in supplying rental-data per house that is advertised on their platforms.”

Photo by Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine / CC0