Czech minister calls for strict enforcement of existing laws on Airbnb style short-term rentals

Foto: Reisefreiheit_eu, Pixabay / CC0

Minister for Regional Development Klára Dostálová has said it would be better to ensure strict enforcement of current laws related to short-term accommodation rather than issue new regulations, told ČTK.

Minister for Regional Development Klára Dostálová has said it would be better to ensure strict enforcement of current laws related to short-term accommodation rather than issue new regulations, told ČTK.

Her comments came after a meeting on Friday between Ministry and Prague representatives with entrepreneurs active in the sector. The coronavirus epidemic led to a significant reduction in short-term accommodation services and Prague City Councillors had hoped to use the emergency situation to introduce new rules.

Dostálová acknowledged that enforcement of existing laws is difficult because the short-term leasing of apartments is itself not defined as a trade that must be licenced, unlike the provision of accommodation services.

Klára Dostálová, photo: archive of the Office of the Czech Government

According to Dostálová, it is crucial to clearly distinguish between short-term leases provided by Airbnb and similar platforms and long-term rentals. In her view, competent authorities should be able to carry out better inspections.

At Friday’s meeting, representatives of Prague also presented a proposal to assign greater powers to municipalities so that they could regulate the operation of short-term leases and the platforms on which the service operates. Dostalová said the question remains as to how much power, exactly, to grant municipalities.

Meanwhile, the Prague City Council agreed that the municipality, as part of its legislative initiative, would propose that the Trade Licensing Act be amended to allow regulation. Councillor Hana Kordová Marvanová (United Force for Prague) has been authorised to prepare a proposal to amend the Act.

Prague proposes that among other things municipalities be able to limit the number of simultaneously accommodated persons, especially in flats in residential apartment buildings, and set a maximum number of days in a year when flats can be leased.

According to Dostalová, regulating the number of accommodated persons would not be a problem but agreeing on the specific number of days could prove difficult.

Airbnb told ČTK it supports clear rules for shared accommodation in Prague and had proposed measures to promote responsible shared accommodation building on their experience gained through working with more than 500 governments worldwide.

Dostálová said a follow-up meeting on should take place within two to three months.

According to the Czech Association of Property Owners and Landlords, short-term rentals in the Czech Republic are most often used by Germans, Americans and British.

According to the Czech Statistical Office, 1.16 million foreign tourists stayed in the Czech Republic via the Airbnb platform in 2018 and 115,000 Czechs used the platform for domestic stays. An estimated 11,500 flats in Prague are used primarily for short-term accommodation.