While Uber battles regulatory crack downs in Europe, likely exacerbated by its brash operational style, Airbnb’s more emollient modus operandi has secured its first sharing economy agreement in Europe: a partnership with the City of Amsterdam that the pair say is aimed at promoting responsible home sharing.
The meat of the agreement with the city’s housing and finance departments is on the tax side, with Airbnb taking on the tax collector role, by collecting tourist tax from hosts and remitting it to the city on their behalf. It will begin doing so as of February 2015. This follows Airbnb beginning to collect and remit transient occupancy taxes in San Francisco in October. It also collects and remits taxes in Portland.
The Amsterdam deal includes Airbnb agreeing to send twice yearly email updates to hosts reminding them of city requirements when it comes to renting their homes. It is also working with the city to develop an online resource for hosts providing them with pertinent information and links to rules that may affect renting their homes, and has agreed to prominently summarize these rules on its own website.
Airbnb hosts will also be required to actively declare that they understand the rules and agree to comply with them before they can post their listing.
Lastly, Airbnb says it has agreed to work with the city to tackle illegal hotels — so will presumably be informing on hosts if it finds they are not complying with local city regulations.
The Amsterdam partnership agreement will take effect from January 1, 2015. Earlier this year the city approved a new home-sharing policy to allow local residents to rent their homes out on an occasional, short term basis. That agreement paved the way for today’s partner agreement with Airbnb.
Commenting on the news in a blog post, Airbnb’s David Hantman said: “This is good news for our hosts, who will benefit from a simplified tourist tax process and clearer information on what local laws and regulations may apply to them.
“It is also a great example of how we are working together with policy makers across the world on progressive rules that strengthen cities and help local residents make a little extra money to afford living costs.”
Update: An Airbnb spokesman confirmed to TechCrunch it is also in discussions with the French government to collect and remit tourist tax there. “The details are being worked out, but we expect an agreement to be in place later in 2015,” he said.
This fall the U.K. government also launched a review into the sharing economy — triggered in part by the rise of services such as Airbnb, and signaling a high degree of political comfort with the activities of the category.