Airbnb is facing more attempts to regulate its short lets, this time with the European Commission calling on the platform to align its price transparency and terms and conditions with EU consumer rules.
“Popularity cannot be an excuse for not complying with EU consumer rules. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules” says a statement from the European Commission.
The body says Airbnb's current pricing presentation and a number of its terms do not comply with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Unfair Contract Terms Directive and other regulations.
A statement from the Commission says this specifically means:
- that the company should not mislead consumers by going to a court in a country different from the one in their member state of residence;
- Airbnb cannot decide unilaterally and without justification which terms may remain in effect in case of termination of a contract;
- Airbnb cannot deprive consumers from their basic legal rights to sue a host in case of personal harm or other damages;
- Airbnb cannot unilaterally change the terms and conditions without clearly informing consumers in advance and without giving them the possibility to cancel the contract;
- Terms of services cannot confer unlimited and discretionary power to Airbnb on the removal of content;
- Termination or suspension of a contract by Airbnb should be explained to consumers, governed by clear rules and it should not deprive the consumer from the right to adequate compensation or the right to appeal;
- Airbnb's policy on refunds, compensation and the collection of damage claims should be clearly defined and should not deprive consumers from their right to activate the available legal remedies.
The company has until the end of August to present its proposals; if they are not considered satisfactory, Airbnb could face an enforcement action.
Airbnb has told the BBC that it’s looking into the Commission’s statements.
“We take this issue seriously and are committed to being as transparent as possible for our community ... Guests are made aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, prior to confirming their decision to book a listing, and we will work together with the authorities to clarify the points raised.”