Airbnb landlord hit with record fine

Amsterdam has been cracking down on home sharing. Picture: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

AMSTERDAM has slapped a record fine of 297,000 euros ($417,000) on a landlord and agency which broke council rules in renting out 11 apartments via homesharing giant Airbnb, officials said Monday.

“We were called in by the neighbours who complained of disturbances,” said city spokeswoman Jeanine Harders. “After investigating we found that they were illegally renting out apartments.”

The owners and the agency which listed the apartments on Airbnb must each pay 13,500 euros ($18,950) for each of the 11 apartments, situated in the centre of the busy Dutch capital.

“It’s the usual fine, but multiplied by 11 that makes it a record,” she said, adding that the municipality had imposed almost 200 such fines in 2016.

In December, Amsterdam reached a pioneering agreement with Airbnb to limit the sharing of private homes in the city to 60 days a year.

The city of some 830,000 residents, famous for its canals, welcomes more than 17 million visitors every year, leaving many jostling for space on its busy roads and pushing up the price of accommodation.

Under the agreement, which went into effect in January and continues until the end of 2018, Airbnb vowed to introduce a new day counter on its site to help hosts track their rentals and to ensure no-one breaks the rules.

The increasingly popular site has been targeted by several cities exasperated by what is seen as a bid at times to avoid local laws and taxes.

Airbnb announced for the first time that it would enforce a legal limit on the number of nights a year a host in London and Amsterdam can rent out a home. Thursday’s announcement, coupled with several deals made over the past year, shows the company has started to offer more compromises to make peace with cities.

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