Airbnb, which is facing tough local restrictions in many of the largest cities in which it operates, says its new link with a lettings agency in Paris is a pilot project that is likely to roll out across France - and, observers say, possibly internationally too.
Airbnb has teamed up with Century 21 in Paris, where the city council limits hosts to using their properties for short-lets for a maximum of 120 days a year.
Any long-term tenant or landlord whose contract has been entered into with Century 21 may apply for an Airbnb-friendly lease, which authorises sub-letting as part of a revenue share between the landlord, tenant and agency.
The tenant makes the request to Century 21, who gets the agreement of the owner. The agency puts the listing on Airbnb but the tenant manages the daily use of his listing: adding photos, adjusting prices, setting availabilities and welcoming guests.
For any booking, revenues are shared 70 per cent for the tenant, 23 per cent for the owner and seven per cent for Century 21. Airbnb takes it usual transaction fee at the start of the process.
Subletting is legal in France and in Paris over 60 per cent of households are rented. Paris is also Airbnb’s largest market anywhere in the world with an estimated 65,000 listings.
A statement from Airbnb says: “The partnership will be first tested in Paris. This Airbnb-friendly lease could then be offered by the 852 branches of the Century 21 network throughout [France].”
However, some observers believe this pilot could be a template to help Airbnb in an increasingly hostile climate when it comes to large city councils.
In addition to the Paris 120-day limit, London has imposed a restriction of 90 days, while from next year Amsterdam will allow just 30 days annually. New criteria for hosts imposed by the Japanese government forced Airbnb to temporarily de-activate 80 per cent of its listings in that country.
The magazine Wired says Airbnb’s previous public relations approach - to describe its spread as good for local economies and helpful to amateur ‘hosts‘ who made money by occasionally letting out rooms - is not viable in a most hostile regulatory landscape, especially when large corporate hotels and others oppose the short-lets spread.
“It needs supporters who have substantial clout with politicians, and who see the value in its service not just as a way to help pay the mortgage but as a consistent revenue stream. These real estate company relationships could help to solidify Airbnb as a welcome and reliable service within communities, turning it from upstart to institution. In other words, it needs to befriend the real estate industry” says Wired.