Regardless of the country, regulators are persistently cracking down on Airbnb. In Paris, Airbnb’s largest market, hosts are now required to register with the city government and are allowed to only list their properties for 120 nights each year. Whereas, in Amsterdam, new regulations which go into effect in 2019, will make it hard for hosts to list a home for only 30 nights per year. And following the Japanese government’s forced reservation cancellation of unregistered Airbnb hosts by June 15th, the company deactivated 80 percent of its Japanese listings overnight.
That’s why the partnership Airbnb announced last week with the real estate company Century 21 is so compelling. Now, Parisian renters can request Airbnb-friendly leases, which explicitly allow a renter to sublet an apartment on the platform. In return, the landlord and Century 21 get cuts of 23 percent and 7 percent of the host’s take, respectively. (Airbnb still takes its transaction fee.) In the press release, Laurent Vimont, president of Century 21 France, calls the partnership “a win-win for the owner.”
Of course, he does. For years, tenants have been listing their homes and now his company has a chance to take a cut. But Airbnb has its own incentive for pushing the program: If it works out, Century 21 could become a powerful booster for home-sharing. If Airbnb is delivering steady revenue to the company, it will stand up for Airbnb’s continued existence in the markets where it operates, sometimes on shaky ground.
Airbnb has always approached regulation through diplomacy, trying to persuade cities that it is a friendly, well-meaning contributor to local economies. It has, from the start, relied on its hosts to be boosters for its business, circulating petitions and leaning on their lawmakers to let them list their homes.
But in the face of growing resistance from the hotel industry and increasing concerns about the impact of its service on cities, Airbnb’s campaign of earnest hosts will not be enough to win over lawmakers. It needs supporters who have substantial clout with politicians, and who see the value in its service not just as a way to help pay the mortgage but as a consistent revenue stream. These real estate company relationships could help to solidify Airbnb as a welcome and reliable service within communities, turning it from upstart to institution.
In other words, it needs to befriend the real estate industry.
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