The city of Barcelona has fined homesharing sites Airbnb and Homeaway for their alleged renting out of apartments without a license. The two companies were exposed as "repeat offenders" by the authorities.
Barcelona authorities announced Thursday they'd fined Airbnb and Homeaway 600,000 euros ($633,600) each for advertising and renting out apartments to tourists without a proper license.
The fine was levied in a renewed crackdown on unregulated tourism in the city where home rental sites have allegedly marketed apartments without listing them on the Catalan Tourism Register.
"It shouldn't be possible that thousands of apartments are operating without a license, illegally, without paying tax ad at the peril of neighboring residents," Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau told reporters.
Cities like Berlin, Paris and Barcelona say homesharing websites for tourists deprive locals of apartments for permanent rental, and push up prices for homes remaining on the market. Barcelona has seen a huge surge in tourism, now attracting about 27 million visitors a year.
Airbnb said Thursday it was saddened by the decision and would appeal, pointing to its recent efforts to find a compromise involving the payment of hotel taxes in a total of 700 cities.
It's not the first time Barcelona has fined Airbnb and Homeaway. In December of last year, municipal authorities slapped the companies with a fine of 30,000 euros each for offering homes that lacked proper permits.
hg/nz (Reuters, AFP)