Barcelona City Council is trying to punish the home sharing platform Airbnb for illegal tourist rentals in the city with a fine of €30,000, which the company argues is unjustified.
Are Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms to blame for illegal holiday rentals in Barcelona? City Hall certainly thinks so, and is going after Airbnb in particular, having issued a fine of €30,000 already and threatening more fines to come potentially as high as €600,000.
Barcelona City Council, led by left-wing activist Ada Colau, and by nature hostile towards private business, argue that global platforms like Airbnb are breaking the law by listing homes for rent that do not have the proper licences. Airbnb argue they are not responsible for the actions of users who list properties that do not comply with local laws.
“We are saddened by this decision and will appeal it,” an Airbnb spokesperson has told the news service EFE, whilst pointing out that the home sharing platforms are “part of the solution for Barcelona.” Airbnb also argue they help spread the income from tourism around the city.
Who is right, Airbnb or Ada Colau and her leftist City Council? Is Airbnb responsible for ensuring that all local laws are complied with before listing a property for rent? Is that even feasible for a global platform? Probably not. I doubt that the likes of Airbnb are viable if they are held responsible for complying with municipal laws all over the world.
Surely it’s up to Ada Colau and her administration to sort out the problem of holiday-rental properties in Barcelona at a municipal level by going after people who do not comply with local laws. Issuing unrealistic fines that will never be paid is not going to help.