The Italian Tax office Seize Millions from Airbnb

Italian law enforcement recently seizied a staggering €779.5 million from the renowned short term rental giant Airbnb. Their motive? Allegations of tax evasion.

Prosecutors are claiming that Airbnb dropped the ball when it came to collects taxes. Specifically, they’re saying Airbnb should’ve been collecting a hefty 21% tax from Italian property owners who were renting out their places through Airbnb between 2017 and 2021. But it appears they failed to do so.

This crackdown wasn’t limited to Italy alone; it reached Airbnb’s European headquarters in Ireland. Not just that, they also singled out three individuals who were in influential roles during the period in question.

This isn’t Airbnb’s first legal skirmish in the realm of taxes. In a previous attempt to challenge an Italian law, they went to the Court of Justice of the European Union, and that endeavour didn’t quite their way. The court ruled in 2022 that member countries have the right to require platforms like Airbnb to collect income taxes.

This whole situation underlines the ongoing scrutiny that digital platforms, especially the big players like Airbnb, face when it comes to their tax responsibilities. The rules in this digital landscape are still evolving.


Airbnb might be facing even more challenging times ahead, as the government led by Prime Minister Meloni is considering increasing the tax rate on short-term rentals to a hefty 26%.

Denver couple accused of running short-term rental business

A Denver couple, Alexander Neir, 45, and his wife Stacy Neir 43, have been charged with running an illegally Airbnb rental business at two locations which were not the primary residence. The two live in Stapleton, but they had false documents claiming that the two rentals are their primary residence. They are accused of signing Affidavits for a primary rental residence in the Berkeley neighborhood and another one in the north of Broncos Stadium at Mile High close to Jefferson Park. Industry watchers believe that this move should be a wakeup call for those who might be breaking the rules.

The 2016 city short-term rental regulation states that only a person who permanently stays in a residence is allowed to use it as a short-term rental. Apparently, the Neirs signed an Affidavit claiming that they lived full time in the two properties, but investigators reported that the couple actually lived in Stapleton where Stacy Neir is a block captain in the neighborhood.

The DA’s office said that following an investigation by Denver police, authorities learned that the Jefferson Park home and The Berkeley home were being used as short-term rentals since 2016 and 2013 respectively.

The affidavit lists Alexander as a managing broker at Kentwood Real Estate and his wife as a broker associate of the same company. The two have each been charged with an attempt to influence a public servant.  Speaking through their attorney, Daniel Recht, the couple believes that the prosecution is misguided. But, the lawyer remains confident that his clients will receive a fair ruling once he presents all the facts to the court.

James Carlson, a realtor in Denver and who gives lessons on how to be a successful Airbnb host seems to agree that the charges are escalated, but he says the city has been trying to move in that direction. He says that this move was no surprise since many people have been breaking that law for a while now, and it was only a matter of time before the city began taking action. ‘While the city has been pushing people to comply, this move should warn everyone who flouts this law.” Carlson said.

The city, through their spokesperson Eric Escudero, says that majority of complaints they receive are those which homeowners flaunt Denver’s short term rental residency requirements. He admits that there are people who rent them illegally and that it’s an issue they are following up very closely.

No More Love For Airbnb in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has new proposals that could see a ban on holiday rentals in some parts of the city. According to a statement issued on Wednesday, holiday rentals might be adversely affecting some neighbourhood, which is leading to poor quality of life. However, this is still a matter under investigation by the municipal council. But if the statement is indeed true, such a ban could immediately take effect.

Laurens Ivens, the city’s socialist executive in charge of housing, argues that these rentals are used as profit objects instead of places to live in. The new proposal targets brokerages services such as Airbnb Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc.

According to that statement, the city aims at reducing the increasing houses that are being rented by these platforms, since it’s becoming harder for residents to find available homes. As it stands, Amsterdam has already cut holiday rentals to a maximum of 30 days in a year.

In response to this, Airbnb through their spokesman emailed a statement saying they are not in agreement with laws restricting the right of Amsterdammers to share their homes often. And that the company’s customers accounted for 8% of overnight stays in the city.
The city is also pushing for a policy which will force vacation rentals to apply for license starting from 2020 and which will be valid for five years. The new proposal also outlines that the only person who’s legally allowed to operate a property as B&B is the one who resides in it.

Airbnb to Hand Over Data to NYC and Other Cities Could Be Next

The feud between Airbnb and New York is not new. For the past decade, they have embroiled in a high profile rivalry. On the one hand, this hospitality service brokerage wants to be legitimized in its biggest market. But on the other, New York City’s strict short term rental laws make Airbnb’s rentals illegal. This ongoing enmity has also affected New Yorkers as finding affordable housing is difficult.

In February, New York’s mayor, Bill de Blasio subpoenaed the company for records of more than 17,000 listings that weren’t anonymized. The mayor explained that this was a measure to force this enterprise to provide transparency about their rentals. But after years of lawsuits, countersuits and lobbying campaigns, New Yorkers can now be relieved since the company has found a way to share that information with the government without privacy being compromised.

The Lost Battle

The data dump involved listings from January 2018 through February and was given to the city on April 5th. The agreement came to be as a response to a subpoena from the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE) in Manhattan Supreme Court on May 15th.

Now, OSE can request listing information containing user records from this hospitality service enterprise but only if they can prove that the info will be helpful to an investigation. They were given one year to make that request. The city will be using the data to determine operators who disrupt the city’s housing stock and damage New Yorker’s neighbourhood, placing residents and visitors in danger.

Liz De Fusco spoke on behalf of Airbnb and said that this deal is the first step towards finding a lasting solution to this problem. With this agreement, the company hopes that they can work with the city to find a consistent solution that’s within its lawful rights and obligations.

More To Come

But, this enterprise and OSE still have other four separate cases awaiting in the same court against each other on whether Airbnb should be compelled to share user information with the city. The company was however ordered to respond to the OSE subpoenas for records from listings in three cities: Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens which the city suspects they are illegally used. The information in these files, however, is to remain confidential as per court orders.

Crack down on Airbnb in Ireland from June

New rules on short-term letting will come into effect for the residence of Ireland from 1st June 2019 help bring properties back on to the long term rental market.

From the start of June the new regulation will have the following effects for hosts in areas deemed to have high housing demand:

  • No letting of second properties on short-term lets
  • Homeowners will be allowed to rent their property for a maximum of 90-days per calendar year similar to London.
  • Homeowners can only rent their place out for a maximum of 14 consecutive days.
  •  Hosts will now need to register properties with their local authority.
  • Properties can be rented out for longer with planning permission from the local authority.

Airbnb believes the new rules and regulations will have a huge impact on tourism and will be difficult to enforce.

It’s unclear as of yet what the potential fines might be, but it’s likely the first few fines will make examples of professional landlords creating an unsustainable market.

Ireland is the only location attempting to curb the rise of Airbnb properties, back in 2016 Amsterdam implemented a 60-day rule and Vancouver’s new rules saw Airbnb listing drop rapidly from over six thousand to just below four thousand listings.

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal Latest Approach in Controlling Illegal Rentals

The city of Montreal is taking a new approach to alleviating what the city officials are terming as house crisis. The latest strategy by the city is directing its employees to remove lock boxes that store keys for tenants. Airbnb landlords often give their short term tenants a code so they can access an apartment on their own.

Other cities across Canada have cracked down on residents using Airbnb and other sharing platforms primarily aiming to thwart illegal Airbnb rentals. The Mayor of Montreal Valerie Plante reached out to the residents to ask them to help report the location of these lockboxes via the council hotline.  The city believes that the increase of these boxes in town is aimed to evade inspection. City Councilor Richard Ryan believes that due to the anonymous aspect of these boxes, it is hard to inspect short term rentals especially because these boxes are on public properties and not private properties.

This the campaign started the city authorities have removed hundreds of lock boxes in the downtown and in Plateau Mont-Royal areas. Owners of short-term rentals have now been looking at alternative means for entry and have removed the lockboxes themselves. Mayor Valerie and her administration continue to monitor the situation of all rental associated with Airbnb and other similar sharing platforms.

Judge Blocks NYC Law Demanding Airbnb Disclose User Data

To most people, maintaining the privacy of personal information is very important especially when divulging that information to others. Airbnb almost lost a large base of their customers in New York due to a law that required them to give out their customers’ information. They, however, found reprieve when they were told not to “comply” until the issue was sorted out in court.

A petition from Airbnb and HomeAway Inc was granted by a judge who ruled that the orders issued by the city’s governance should be halted. The district judge Paul Engel Mayer stated that the home sharing companies had higher chances of winning against the rule that was supposed to take effect on 2nd February. This was because the law would have been an infringement on the constitution that prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures”.

This new law was passed by council members who claimed that the services rendered by the home renting companies disrupted the long-term rental procedures and reduced profits. It was therefore meant to reduce such rental arrangements.

The law requested the short-term letting institutions to give their client’s personal details to the city council as well as the duration of the renter’s stay and how much space they were renting. This was to help the council come up with rules prohibiting apartment owners from giving out their apartments for less than a month.

The ruling was described as a “huge win” for the company as well as other citizens by the company’s spokesperson.
This win was important considering the resistance the Airbnb is facing from other regions. Had the law been enforced, it would have given those other areas a “playbook to copy”.

New York’s mayor had a different opinion. He termed the law as “good” and went ahead to explain that it was meant to stop landlords from “creating facto hotels, which is unfair and illegal”.

This seemed to contradict the judge’s sentiment which stated that the rule doesn’t give renters an opportunity to challenge it. In his statement, he explained that the rule was “… unreasonable under the fourth amendment”.

Both parties were told to look for evidence for the pre-trial conference set on May 10th.

New Regulations Crack Down On Airbnb’s in Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Airbnb and Los Angeles have been battling for more than three years over the rental unit regulations and home sharing. The tide now seems to turn in Los Angles. On Tuesday, December 11, Los Angeles city council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance that puts more restriction on the rental hosts.

The new ordinance in LA is set to go into effect in July 2019 and applies to the entire city of Los Angeles including Venice, Hollywood and other hot spot areas. This law particularly limits the number of days property owners can rent their residence through Airbnb and other short-term housing platforms, such as HomeAway and Booking.com.

This is the first attempt of the city to legalize as well as crack down short-term rental in Los Angeles and critics believes that this will create conflict in the neighbourhood and will worsen the housing crisis.

When the new bill is made law, hosts will only be allowed to rent out their primary residence in which they will need to have been living there for a minimum of six months of the year.

The new short-term rental rules

  • Rent controlled properties will not be eligible for short-term letting
  • Licenses to rent under the new short-term letting rules will cost $89
  • Each host will have a maximum of 120 days per calendar year to rent their property
  • The 120 days can be extend using the “Extended Home-Sharing” option. This will allow hosts to rent their property for 365 days, at a cost of $850 for the license.
  • Any hosts who obtain more than 3 citations will have the license revoked.
  • Only one home may be used for short-term rentals at a time.
  • Additionally, a temporary structure such as RVs and trailers are banned from renting.

One of the city council members Mike Bonin says that the new ordinance is a means of striking a balance between host accommodation sharing their home to earn extra income and punishing irresponsible hosts running “rogue hotels”.

Experts believe that the recent action by the LA city council is the best way of addressing the current housing crisis. Most believe that Airbnb is taking homes away from permanent resident and putting these restrictions are the best way of addressing this issue. Besides, the new regulation has not entirely banned sharing of homes for those “who want to make their ends meet” Bonin said. The law only restricts bad rentals and those running “rogue hotels”.

Most people believe that Airbnb has helped them pay off their mortgage and the recent action preventing owners from renting out will not put the units back into the market.

Although this new law is seen as a setback for Airbnb hosts, Airbnb is advocating for the city official to have a similar ordinance that regulates vocational rentals and units that are not host’s principal residence. This motion has been introduced by council members Herb Wesson and Harris-Dawson.

The outcome could have been worse, this might have been eased by Airbnb’s announcement last month that they had collected over $100 Million in Taxes for the City of Los Angeles since August 2016.

 

D.C Approve Tighter Limits on Short-Term Renting

On Tuesday, the D.C Council passed a unanimous vote imposing strict limits in the country on Airbnb and other short-term home-sharing companies.

If Mayor Muriel E. Bowser signs the bill, property owners will be prohibited from renting out their second homes on a short-term basis. Furthermore, they would also be barred from renting out the spare basements or rooms in their main residence for a period exceeding 90 days in a year when the host is away.

Despite Bowser thinking the bill is too restrictive, she has not threatened to veto it partly due to the fact the bill has passed with enough votes to supersede a veto.
Promptly, Airbnb went ahead and denounced the actions carried out by the council stating that the D.C Council’s vote is the most recent example of misleading tactics aimed at passing fiscally reckless home sharing policies. In a statement released by Airbnb’s spokesperson Crystal Davis, she indicated the council’s actions accomplished what appeared impossible by concurrently denying resident of D.C. $64 million in additional income annually, while still levying D.C. taxpayers a bill of $104 million.

Moreover, Davis stated Airbnb would still be wholly committed to guaranteeing home sharing is secure in our country’s capital. Nevertheless, he did not indicate what specific actions the firm plans to take, despite the company having previously declaring it might make the case directly to the voters with a ballot initiative in 2020.

Airbnb has also filed a complaint against the city of Boston on Tuesday over a law which contains some provisions comparable to those of D.C.’s legislation.

However, supporters of this crackdown stated the short-term rentals are making an already overheated real estate market more difficult for prospective renters and buyers. Therefore, they feel the suppression is necessary for such a city.

Consequently, district residents who are in search of a home to purchase will now not be competing with investors seeking to list them on the profitable short-term rental platforms, a statement that Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) detailed on the authored bill just after the vote.

The passing of the bill was after a spell of last-minute discussions among the lawmakers on whether or not the law was too strict. Additionally, members of the council suggested amendments which would soften some of the harsher provisions in the legislation.

The only change that was approved was a measure permitting homeowners to apply for an exception the annual cap of the bill on the amount of time you can rent a unit.

Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), a D.C. Council member is the one who introduced the amendment stating its purpose was to accommodate District residents serving in either the diplomatic corps or military since they could go for lengthy periods suddenly.

The council’s passed measure would start taking effect on October 1, 2019. Subsequently, this would allow the city adequate time to come up with a licensing and implementation agency. Moreover, it would avail more time to resolve discrepancies under which majority of the short-term rentals are technically violating zoning regulations.

Birmingham City Council wants to tax Airbnb customers

Birmingham Alabama

In a meeting held on Tuesday by the Birmingham City Council, it was decided that Airbnb would be allowed to collect the city’s lodging tax of 6.5%, as long as the rental is located within Birmingham’s city limits, beginning in thirty days. Afterwards, the tax will be remitted to the city. This will allow the city to acquire profit from Airbnb’s business as well, which would end up being $97,500 for every $1.5 million that is generated by the hosts. For Alabama, Airbnb collects a 4% lodging tax on all rentals including those within Birmingham. There is another regulation in place when it comes to hosting in Birmingham and that is that those who do so often are required to receive a business license.

Many people who use Airbnb are confused as to how taxes affect them but there is one specific type of tax that affects both hosts and renters. This is the “Lodging Tax” which is basically a tax added onto the total cost of the room that someone rents. For example, if you were to rent a room for $100 for only one night you may pay anywhere from $10-$20 extra in lodging tax.

There are also possible changes being investigated throughout Alabama as a whole and that is when it comes to where Airbnb hosting is allowed. Valerie Abbott, President of the City Council in Birmingham, has come to the decision that it is necessary for there to be regulations about what types of areas are allowed to have Airbnb hosts. This is largely due to the fact that numerous complaints have been made, especially in residential areas of the state. So it is important that you check the rules of your city’s zoning office before making the decision to rent your property through Airbnb or any other similar hosting websites.

Airbnb to Sue the City of New York

Airbnb went to court to sue New York City over a new home-sharing law. The law requires Airbnb to share data about its hosts’ every month with the New York City Office of Special Enforcement. Airbnb claims that the law is an infringement of privacy and violates both the federal and state constitution.

 

There is an affordable housing crisis in New York City. The administration of the city blames the ever-rising cost of housing on companies like Airbnb which offer short-term rental services. The administration argues that since short-term rentals are more profitable, they drive rent prices up. Therefore, the new law is an attempt to catch Airbnb hosts who do not abide by the home-sharing laws. In fact, the NYC estimates as much as two-thirds of Airbnb listings are illegal.

 

On the other hand, Airbnb argues that the law violates constitutional rights. The information to be given to the city officials could be shared with other cities or become part of a public record that can be accessed by any citizen.

 

The company maintains that the law is aimed at intimidating New York people into abandoning home-sharing in favor of hotel accommodation. Apparently, the hotel industry has close ties to the city government through a former city employee.

 

The legislation was passed in July without opposition and was signed to law by the mayor on August 6. Once the law comes to effect, it will require home-sharing companies such as Airbnb to share information about their hosts, the location of the rental property and the kind of rental (whole unit or partial), how many days it was rented, and the proceeds collected by the host and the booking platform.

 

According to the Mayor’s Office, the information will provide the city with the data they need to control housing cost, and ensure residents and visitors feel secure and safe in their neighborhoods. The city intends to defend the law. The law will be a big blow to Airbnb in New York, which is its largest market. A similar law in San Francisco saw the number of its listings fall by more than half.

 

The lawsuit filed on Friday by Airbnb is just one of the company’s many battles with New York City over the past decade. Who will emerge the winner in this lawsuit?

LA To Restrict Airbnb Rentals To Primary Residence

The City Council of Los Angeles supported in one accord on Wednesday, legislation upon whose enactment would legalize at-night renting of principal residential apartments and homes.
The unanimous decision has been arrived at following earlier on agitation by part of Los Angeles Parliamentarians for regulation of similar at-night renting of houses and apartments now popular due to the high number of virtual programs, for instance, Airbnb and VRBO.

However, the legislation has to undergo through Los Angeles Planning Commission’s scrutiny, whose membership is composed of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointees, prior to voting into law by the council.
Hoteliers, groups of people neighbouring each other, and housing pressure groups continue mounting pressure on local parliamentarians to enforce barriers to at-night rental arrangements. According to them, businesspeople have been misusing the system by offering temporary accommodation in residential places, worsening plans to have people own houses and interfering with neighbouring residents’ peace.

Airbnb together with homeowners renting their houses argues that at-night renting of houses enables earnings by people who have stopped working and the society at large, attract spend from people touring the area and supports the city’s financial forecast.
According to estimates from the city’s official, Airbnb and VRBO will pay accommodation levies in excess of $52 in the coming financial year.

According to Jose Huizar, who sits in the Council, prior to Wednesday’s vote, the suggested legislation aimed at arriving on a compromise between the rental companies and homeowners. “We established laws that made the growth of those operating fairly possible and eliminated those who disrupted their neighbours’ peace,” said Huizar.

The yet to be adopted rules stipulates homeowners renting their homes to be registered with the city failure to which, fines are applied. Virtual entities like Airbnb also risk being fined should they advertise homes not registered or failure to provide own address.

Apartments under rent stabilization regulations would, however, fail the eligibility to be hired for short stays. Besides, there would be a capping on the number of days one can rent out their house.
According to Huizar’s estimates, the Council would tentatively enact the legislation in a period of four months.

Besides the possibility to enact the first set of legislation, Gil Cedillo who also sits in the Council has proposed a second set of laws seeking to allow homeowners rent out secondary residential homes for use at night.

Cedillo’s idea received no voting on Wednesday and has been positively received by a section of homeowners in the business together with HomeAway agents. The latter contend that vacation rentals provide the much-required choice for families on travel preferring home comfort to that of a hotel.

Opponents are wary the passage of the initial legislation would invalidate that proposed by Cedillo.

Unlicensed Vancouver Hosts May Face Large Fines

Starting September, rentals operator working on short-term basis but are unlicensed in Vancouver will be fined S$1,040 daily. This is in a bid to make the home sharing regulations tighter in Canada’s most expensive property market by the Airbnb Inc.
In the deal involving Airbnb and Vancouver city authorities, every host will have to display a license number on ads depicting that they have legal standing for short-term deals. Officials in Vancouver say Airbnb (based in San Fransisco) will account for about 88% of 6,600 short-term rental programs available in Vancouver.

The set measures’ main intentions is to stop unregulated market, which is responsible for causing problems in the Pacific Coast capital where the long-term supply of tenants is almost zero while the vacation rentals business continues to thrive. The city took two years to come up with these measures after reviewing policies used by 14 other North American cities and Berlin. They then concluded that those were enforceable rules

During a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Gregor Robertson termed the pact as “the first of its kind.” He went on to say that, the main of the regulations is to make sure that the housing serves as homes to people who live and work in Vancouver. From 19 April, Airbnb will consist of an extra field in its official website that will allow people to register their businesses and obtain a license number, which they will obtain from an online service that will be launch on that very day. Listing a business without a license number will no longer be possible for the new hosts while the existing hosts will have up until 31 August to acquire one.

The authorities in Vancouver plan to pursue violators aggressively. Under the set agreement, Airbnb will be responsible for keeping records of all the housing programs in Vancouver and collect municipal taxes from all its hosts. This will make it easier to identify violations and sending of inspectors for auditing purposes.

In earlier times, Vancouver depended on public complaints for it to identify violators. This made it hard for action to be taken because identifying a short-term rental from a long-term one is very hard. The new regulations, however, seek to reduce the burden of proof and unleash fines for businesses without a listing.

To curb those who might be planning to evade the rules by moving to other home-sharing websites, the city is planning to contact and make an agreement similar to that of Airbnb with Expedia Group Inc and HomeAway amongst other sites. This will ensure that only licensed businesses are allowed to operate on those sites as well. The capital is also in talks with TripAvdisor Inc as well.

Only principal residences will be allowed to have short-term rentals, but the houses must be occupied for at least 180 days every year. However, it remains illegal to rent a property for investments, laneway homes and other secondary units for stays of less than 30 days.
According to officials, anybody caught renting ineligible properties will be fined C$1,000 every day with immediate effect.

More on Vancouver’s Regulations can be found here on Airbnb site.

 

Chinese authorities demand details of Airbnb guests

Airbnb will start sending information to the Chinese government about the customers who will book accommodation in China. The kind of information shared will include dates of booking and the passport details.

Hosts who list the accommodation will have their information given to authorities once they accept bookings. The online giant says that it is complying with laws and regulations, like the other businesses in China. Airbnb has almost 140,000 listings of local operators. Necessary rules Hotels in China must share information about there their guests with the local government and police.

Travelers and tourists who live in private homes should also register their details with the authority within one day of arrival. Airbnb says it is simply following the laid down process of Chinas hospitality industry. The information that they collect is the same as what China hotels have been getting for ages. This is according to an Airbnb spokesperson. The step they are taking as they get other ways of helping guests and hosts follow rules and regulations. Unlike what happens in most countries, before Airbnb accepts your accommodation, they provide your passport information to the authorities. You have to provide a passport before you do hotel booking. The local authorities store this information and they share it with authorities when they request.

What will happen is that they will share the information once you book. Information will be sent to the authorities once you accept the bookings. The company has communicated to all its China hosts that their information will be given to the government going forward. Those not happy with this new arrangement were allowed to terminate their accommodation offering