Renting Out on Airbnb – Is it Legal?

Letting out holiday apartments is big business in Paris, but is it legal? The papers are full of the airbnb controversy at the moment, questioning how to control the buy-to-let market and ensure that there is enough affordable accommodation for people living in the city. So what does that mean for us–people who own a second apartment and want to make a bit of extra money renting it out? Here are the facts:

When is it legal to rent out to tourists?
If you own an apartment in Paris, and it is your primary residence, you can legally rent it out over short periods for up to 120 days a year. The law allows you to rent your property out for longer than that, or to rent out a second apartment, only if you have it registered as a commercial property. This isn’t just a case of getting some forms stamped. To receive approval for this the owner has to compensate the long-term rental market by buying a commercial property and turning it into a residential one. So for every apartment you rent out to tourists, you need an additional one to rent out to a Parisian. Feasible maybe for investors out to make money, but not so easy for those of us for whom the extra income is a way of helping to achieve the dream of owning a little piece of Paris.

But doesn’t everyone do it anyway?
There are approximately 60,000 Parisian properties listed on Airbnb. It is estimated that around 40% of those are rented out illegally. That’s 24 000 flats that are secondary residences being rented out.

We were surprised to learn that it wasn’t technically legal to rent out our apartment but we were told not to worry because everyone does it anyway. Until recently, ‘illegal’ rentals have flown conveniently under the radar. Now, as a result of the Airbnb boom, the authorities have been forced to look more closely and take action. Today, you can rent out your Paris apartment at the risk of a 25,000 euro fine. I’m not sure of how big the risk really is but the city council has been conducting  raids in the most popular tourist areas, and it’s enough to make us feel uncomfortable with the situation.

Where I stand
When we did our sums, we budgeted for our apartment so that we weren’t reliant on rental income to pay it off. If we are not able to rent out legally, we will just take our place off the market. It makes me sorry to do so. The extra income is of course very welcome but I also love the process of arranging our bookings, sharing tips with guests and helping them to have an amazing stay in Paris. Paris will lose that type of hospitality by shutting down Airbnb rentals. I agree that the situation needs to be managed and that creating affordable accommodation for Parisians should be a priority, but there is a difference between property magnates who buy up whole blocks solely for financial gain and the people with a second home bought to fulfil a dream. We are not going to get rich from renting out our little piece of Paris. Nor are we going to sell it if we’re not allowed to rent it out. The theory that stopping people from renting out will free up accommodation for people living in Paris will not always work out. Sorry, Paris, but whether we can share our apartment with tourists visiting the city or not, it’s ours and we are the only ones who are going to get to live there.


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