The European Commission has presented a proposal for regulation to “increase transparency” in the short-term rental accommodation sector to help public authorities to ensure its “balanced development” as part of a sustainable tourism sector.

According to a report by idealista, for Eduardo Miranda, president of the Local Accommodation Association in Portugal (ALEP), the proposal “is a step forward but does not solve the main problem, which is the fragmentation of laws” at the local level.

“While local accommodation reservations offer benefits for hosts and tourists, they can create concerns for certain local communities in difficulty, for example, with the lack of affordable housing”, adding for whom “the new rules will improve the collection and the sharing of data from hosts and online platforms”.

The proposed new rules, says the European Commission, “will contribute to improving transparency in the identification and activity of short-term accommodation hosts and the rules they have to comply with, and will facilitate the registration of hosts”. In addition, they will also address “the current fragmentation in the way online platforms share data and will ultimately help prevent illegal activities”.

What does the European Commission proposal say?

The proposed regulation will not affect the ability of public authorities in each country to regulate short-term rental of accommodation, but they will have to adapt their registration system. With the new rules, Brussels intends to:

  • Harmonize registration requirements for hosts and short-term rental properties when introduced by national authorities: registration schemes will have to be fully online and easy to use. A similar set of relevant information about hosts and their properties should be required, namely the “who”, “what” and “where”. Upon completion of registration, hosts must receive a unique registration number;

  • Clarify rules to ensure registration numbers are displayed and verified: Online platforms will have to make it easy for hosts to display registration numbers on their platforms. They will also have to randomly check that hosts register and display the correct numbers. Public authorities may suspend registration numbers and request platforms to identify non-compliant hosts;

  • Streamline data sharing between online platforms and public entities: online platforms will have to share data on the number of nights and guests with public entities, once a month, in an automated way;

  • Allow data reuse, in aggregate form: data generated under this proposal will, in aggregate form, contribute to the tourism statistics produced by Eurostat;

  • Establish an effective implementation framework: Member States will monitor the implementation of this transparency framework and apply the relevant sanctions in case of non-compliance with the Regulation's obligations.

The Commission proposal still needs to be discussed and approved by the European Parliament. After its adoption and entry into force, Member States will have a period of two years to establish the necessary mechanisms for exchanging data.