• Switzerland's news in English

Airbnb 'takes homes off Geneva market for locals'

Malcolm Curtis · 11 Nov 2014, 08:04

Published: 11 Nov 2014 08:04 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Le Temps newspaper said on Monday that around 2,000 homes were being rented through the website, launched in San Francisco and now advertising “places to stay from local hosts in 190 countries”.

The newspaper points out though that while Geneva is facing a housing crisis, with an official vacancy rate of close to zero and apartments virtually impossible to find for newcomers to the city, hundreds of units have been taking out of regular housing stock for short-term vacation rentals through Airbnb.

Other European cities, such as Paris and Berlin, as well as those in the US, have taken action through taxes and regulation to discourage owners of multiple properties from renting for short periods to tourists.

But so far the canton of Geneva has not taken any such measures.

Le Temps uncovered the case of a woman who is managing 120 apartments, including 39 overlooking Lake Geneva, which are being rented out on a short-term basis through Airbnb.

The daily cites a man living in the Pâquis neighbourhood of Geneva who admitted to subletting his three-room apartment on weekends for 90 francs a night through the site to help pay for his rent.

The newspapers talked to another man who manages 16 apartments that are rented on a short-term basis via Airbnb to expats working short stints for multinational companies.

It also interviewed a tenant, identified as Laurent, who sublets his apartment in Geneva’s Old Town for half a year through the website, while he travels, charging 100 francs a night.

“It made me heart broken that it (the apartment) was unoccupied,” Laurent is quoted as saying.

“As well, I have already been broken into and I know there is more chance of that happening again if I leave the apartment empty.”


Le Temps said Laurent and others use pseudonyms and false photos on the Airbnb site because they do not have approval from their landlords to sublet in this way.

And the newspaper reported that some individuals manage to sublet numerous apartments.

One woman who rents out her apartment through Airbnb said it offers the advantages of flexibility because no lease is required and so if she need to use the apartment she can quickly take possession without a notice period.

Airbnb is one of several competing websites offering similar home rental booking services, including such rivals as Housetrip and Wimdu, although it has the highest profile.

Story continues below…

Le Temps noted that other cities have taken various steps aimed at preventing property owners or renters from inappropriate use of the services.

Paris, for example, has decided to subject Airbnb to a daily tax (taxe de séjour) and also sends inspectors to ensure that apartments earmarked for rental by local residents are not used by tourists.

Madrid has imposed a minimum stay of five nights for homes advertised through the site and has required those who are renting out to register with the city.



For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Muslim woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available