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Short-term furnished rentals on online platforms

Short-term rentals have been one of the most dynamic areas of the digital economy in recent years. Spurred on by new specialist players such as Airbnb and HomeAway, it has changed consumers’ relationship to seasonal rentals to the point that reserving an individual’s apartment for a vacation is tending to become the norm.

Faced with this phenomenon, the legislator has chosen to make platforms more and more responsible by imposing more and more obligations on them. In addition, this screwing on the part of the authorities aims to help the municipalities of large cities in the hunt for abusive and illegal rentals which change the appearance of their historic districts and reduce the supply of empty rentals for their citizens.

Town halls will thus be able to better control illegal rentals and ensure that all income received by landlords is properly declared.

So, as a lessor, you can no longer keep up with developments in increasingly complex regulations? Do you get lost in the details of the specifics? Are you wondering about the responsibility of platforms in this area and your obligations towards them?

Fear no longer, we will explain everything to you so that you can begin the adventure without anxiety.

The obligation to provide prior information

Renting a furnished apartment to tourists for a short period of time, on websites like Airbnb in particular, can be simple … or very complicated. Depending on the nature of the accommodation and the location, the laws and regulations impose different rules.

Prior to renting out a property, i.e. when the property is listed on the website, the platform must obtain an affidavit from you showing that you comply with the prior declaration obligations, indicating:

  • Whether or not the property his principal residence;
  • If applicable, the declaration number of the property. In practice, when the property is real estate, the practical presentation sheet of the property to be completed by the lessor should provide this field.

If you do not fill in the declaration number, the property cannot be rented through the platform.

In accordance with Article L.324-1-1 of the Tourism Code, platforms must inform lessors of the obligations of prior declaration or authorization with their municipalities.

The obligations are different according to the following cases:

The property offered for rent on the platform is located in a municipality where a prior declaration is required for the rental of the property on this type of platform:

In this case, the declaration must mention the following elements:

  • The identity, postal address and e-mail address of the declarant;
  • The address of the furnished room, specifying when it is part of a building with several rooms, the building, the staircase, the floor and the number of the apartments ;
  • The status of main residence or not ;
  • The number of rooms making up the property, the number of beds and, where applicable, the date of the classification, decision and the level of classification or any other recognition of the quality of furnished tourist accommodation.

The property offered for rent on the platform is not located in a municipality where the rental of the property on this type of platform is subject to prior authorization, but this property is not the principal residence of the lessor.

 The declaration must mention the following elements:

  • Identity and address of the declarant;
  • Address of the property;
  • Number of rooms and number of beds;
  • The estimated rental date(s);
  • Where applicable, the date of the classification, decision and classification level of furnished tourist accommodation.

Rental period limit

The law also gives intermediaries the task of ensuring that the accommodation is not rented for more than 120 days during the same calendar year if the lessor has declared that it was his main residence, that is to say that he occupies it more than 8 months per year.

Thus, once the notice is published, the platform must monitor compliance with these obligations:

  • It disconnects an announcement that does not contain a registration number;
  • It disconnects the announcement as soon as the accommodation has been rented through it for 120 days;
  • At the request of the Town Hall, it provides the count of rental days through your accommodation.

Income declaration obligation

Online platform operators must send the tax authorities the amount of income received by users.

It should also be noted that this obligation covers all income and not only the income from a short-term rental. If by chance a lessor made a rental for several months through a platform, he would have to disclose to the tax authorities the amount of income received.

Risks and sanctions in the event of non-compliance

The scale of the tourist rental phenomenon is a communication problem between platforms and many large cities.

Facing housing problems, abuse and illegal rentals, the state has set the tone by tightening the rules against landlords of short-term rentals on the Internet. It provides for severe penalties for the latter, which are as follows:

Nature of the fault/breachSanctions
If the platform broadcasts an advertisement without a registration numberThe Elan law has provided that the platforms that do not mention this number in the advertisements risk a fine of € 12,500 per furnished tourist accommodation.
If the platform does not block beyond 120 days of renting a main residenceThe intermediary must count the number of rental days and inform the municipality annually if requested. After 120 rental days, the accommodation cannot be offered for rental until the end of the current year. In the absence of blocking, he risks a fine of € 50,000 per accommodation.
If the platform does not submit to the tax administration income received by usersFailing to comply with this obligation is sanctioned by a fine of 5% of the sums not declared (article 1736 III of the General Tax Code).
If the platform does not submit to the tax administration income received by usersIf the platform broadcasts advertisements whose change of use is not indicated, a sublease without prior consent of the owner or even an advertisement whose registration number is missing, it risks up to € 50,000 fine.
In the event of failing to submit to the municipality the number of days offered for the rental of a hostThe state provides for penalties of up to € 50,000 in fines.  

In short, sometimes success comes with a price tag. After an expansion phase of real estate rental platforms between individuals, the state has regulated their rights and scope.

The fundamental objectives of this turn of the screw are to regulate their growth and limit their abuse. It is also intended to counter illegal rentals and to protect the interests of the hotel industry.

Thus, the hosts of this type of advertisement expose themselves to severe penalties in the event of non-compliance with their obligations and publication of advertisements that do not comply with the law.

French Tax Online is a tax consultancy firm specialized in foreigners investing and living in France.

A member of the Budiz Company Group, which is a French chartered accountant registered with the Order of French Chartered Accountants (OEC).

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