Geneva struggles to enforce cap on Airbnb rentals
A year ago, the Swiss canton of Geneva introduced a cap on the number of nights year for which people could rent out properties on accommodation sites like Airbnb.
That cap was initially set at 60 nights a year, but this was then raised to 90 nights after a legal challenge
The rule changes were designed to stop people breaking the law by using private residential properties for commercial purposes and also to ensure an adequate supply of rental properties for Geneva residents.
However, a year on the new regime appears to have had little impact.
The canton has not been able to count on the support of Airbnb and this means it has only been able to act after receiving formal complaints, state broadcaster RTS reported on Wednesday.
To date, just three complaints have been lodged in relations to the new rules while no penalties have been handed out.
Geneva Vice President Antonio Hodgers conceded that some cases were slipping "under the radar" but he also stressed there were positive takeaways.
He explained that the canton had been in direct contact with “large firms, including real estate agents that rent out multiple apartments” and this had led to part of the holiday accommodation market being regulated.
It’s an answer that has done little to satisfy the local hotel industry, which continues to view platforms like Airbnb as unfair competition.
Tourism researcher Nicolas Délétroz says the ideal solution for the canton would involve Airbnb incorporating a limit on Geneva apartments via its own IT system. But this has proven to be a stumbling block in negotiations.
Meanwhile, Airbnb has said it is “continuing to work with Geneva authorities to create rules that reflect how people want to live in our times”.
In 2017, around 900,000 people rented apartments in Switzerland using Airbnb – up 300 percent in three years, according to company figures.