Is Airbnb An “Estate Agent?” The EU Rules It Isn’t

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Europe’s top court just handed Airbnb a major victory against French tourism association AHTOP.

The subletting and accommodations platform has been ruled to be an “information society service.” In the EU, an information society service is any online business that offers services online. Most online shops and search engines are registered under this term in the EU.

Airbnb came under attack by AHTOP for allegedly offering real estate services. The tourism association then filed a complaint against Airbnb to the European Court of Justice. AHTOP alleged that Airbnb operates as a real estate agent, a category that carries far more requirements. If the Court had agreed with AHTOP’s complaint, Airbnb would be subject to France’s strict housing laws. The complaint against the company suggested that Airbnb wasn’t following those strict laws while its business should qualify it as an estate agent.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice means that Airbnb can continue with business as usual. “We welcome this judgment and want to move forward and continue working with cities on clear rules that put local families and communities at the heart of sustainable 21st century travel,” one Airbnb spokesman said. For its part, AHTOP released its own statement, calling the judgement “astonishing” and calling for a change in regulation.

Airbnb has clashed with tourism companies and hotel chains around the world. AHTOP isn’t the first organization to allege that Airbnb offers hotel services, but without the regulations of the hotel industry. Airbnb’s answer to this assertion is that they simply connect guests with hosts without interfering in any transactions.

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5 months ago
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