GOVERNMENTS, hoteliers and tourist boards throughout the European Union have been awaiting a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerning the status of accommodation booking service Airbnb.
The French tourism association had complained that the online agency did not comply with French property laws and should have an estate agent’s licence, but this claim has been rejected by the court.
The ruling was based on the fact that the court considers Airbnb an “information service” rather than a property broker which was based on the belief that its service was not an add on to a wider property service, it did not set rates and property owners were allowed to use other services to offer their accommodation.
There was an added observation that the French Government had not advised the EU review on electronic commerce about the French law that was being used as evidence.
It is well-known that Airbnb is unpopular with hoteliers across the EU and had the case been won by the French, then it could have triggered a number of similar actions from other countries.
This is now a precedence that the American company may well be able to fall back on should any other government body try to restrict their activities by quoting local real estate law.
Coincidentally whilst the case was being reviewed, the court compared Airbnb with Uber, the private hire car operator and came to the conclusion that Uber was much more controlling as it decided fares.