EU court: Airbnb not an estate agent, no need for license in France

EU court rules Airbnb does not need estate agent license in France
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The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that accommodation booking service company Airbnb is not an estate agent and does not need a license to operate in France.

The EUCJ ruling that Airbnb is not an estate agent and does not need a license in France was on a complaint filed by the French tourism association that Airbnb did not comply with French property laws.

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If the court ruled otherwise, it could have served as a basis for other regulators in the European Union.  However, the CJEU made the decision based on its determination that the accommodation booking company was not a property broker but rather an “information society service”

The CJEU judges also distinguished Airbnb with Uber on the basis of the amount of control accommodation booking firm had over transactions on its service. Airbnb stated that it will move forward and continue working with cities”.

France’s Association for Professional Tourism and Accommodation (AHTOP) argued in its complaint that Airbnb was acting as an estate agency without a licence, violating a local act known as the Hoguet Law. However, Airbnb emphasized that it was protected by EU laws on “electronic commerce”.

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The CJEU ruling was based on various findings, including the fact that Airbnb’s platform was not simply an “ancillary” or add-on service to a wider property business and that property owners were also able to list their homes for rent via other channels. Also, the court found that the company did not set or cap the rent charged by homeowners.

Additionally, the court argued that the French authorities failed to inform the European Commission about the Hoguet Law when the EU directive on electronic commerce was being drafted. It said that because of this, France’s “failure to fulfill its obligation” could be used as a defense in future cases.