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Airbnb’s legal troubles: what are the issues?

As Airbnb finds itself under growing attack from city authorities around the world – this week receiving a €30,000 fine in Barcelona – we look at the controversy surrounding the holiday rental site

Take a peek inside Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters

Why are Airbnb under attack from the authorities?
Airbnb provides an online platform to allow individuals to rent out their homes, rooms or apartments to visitors. While this is not in itself illegal, in many cases the rentals advertised on the site fall foul of local housing laws and regulations. For example, in New York owners or tenants cannot legally rent their apartments out for short periods (less than 30 days) unless they are also living in the property. There is also a tax issue; in many cities those renting out holiday accommodation are expected to pay a hotel or tourist tax.

Who else is opposed to Airbnb?
Unsurprisingly, the hotel industry. Airbnb make it easy for tourists to find cheap accommodation in desirable locations, massively undercutting the prices charged by hotels and B&Bs. In April the Economist reported that if Airbnb continues to grow at its current rate, by 2016 it will be taking a 10% bite out of hotels’ takings – enough to send many businesses under.

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