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What are the rules on renting out French property on Airbnb?

A tourist boat on the Seine river in front of the Eiffel Tower at sunset in Paris
Paris has tough rules on Airbnb rentals. Photo: Ludovic Marin / AFP
If you want to rent your property on Airbnb in France, you need to know the rules - and, this being France, there are a lot of them. They also depend on location. Here's what you need to know.

Airbnb has been hugely popular in France. It unveiled its French platform back in 2012 and by the summer of 2019 more than 8.5 million French people used Airbnb in three months, according to Le Parisien – 5 million of those choosing to rent a property in France.

Paris has previously been the most sought-after destination on the Airbnb platform. But, earlier this year, the southern Var département knocked the capital off the top slot.

But increasingly the platform has moved away from people renting out their homes for short periods and towards those running it as a holiday business, which has in turn pushed up house prices for locals, particularly in cities such as Paris.

This has prompted officials to act, with rules limiting how and for how long you can rent out your home.

Most of these rules are set by local authorities, so vary from place to place.

Key rules

Register your home with local authorities

Most towns and cities in France now have a registration procedure for any person who wants to rent out an entire tourist-furnished accommodation (as opposed to renting our your spare room while you remain in the property).

This procedure is free and only takes a few minutes to complete. You must obtain a registration number from your city hall’s website and include it on your Airbnb listing before you start hosting.

Taxable earnings

Income from renting property on Airbnb may be declarable and taxable as micro-BIC income. Handily, Airbnb offers a guide to what taxes you need to consider if renting out a property in France.

As a general rule, income from holiday letting your property should be declared for tax, but income from occasionally renting out part of your main residence is exempt from tax and does not have to be declared as long as the amount earned is less than €760 per year.

And don’t think you can get away with not declaring your income. Airbnb is obliged to send rental details directly to the taxman to save you the bother of doing it yourself. 

Taxe de séjour

Income tax is not the end of it. Numerous French cities have an agreement with Airbnb to collect the tourist tax – taxe de séjour – which means that Airbnb properties in the capital are now classed under the rental category of furnished lets or meublés touristiques non-classés

That, in turn, means that Airbnb adds up to €4.40 per person per night to the cost of a stay. Taxe de séjour levels for towns and cities across France are available here, but this tax is dealt with entirely by Airbnb.

Added tax on second homes

Many areas popular with tourists are suffering from a housing shortage for locals as businesses buy up vacant properties to rent out on Airbnb.

In an attempt to combat this, a number of communes have taken advantage of a law that allows them to impose a surtaxe de la taxe d’habitation which can amount to an extra 60 percent on part of the tax.

The law allows towns with more than 50,000 residents to apply an annual surtaxe of between 5 percent and 60 percent if they are in zones where there is a housing imbalance with more people looking for homes than homes available. This affects all second homes in the area, whether or not you rent them out on Airbnb.

The list of towns using the surtaxe system for second homes is available here.

Max rental allowance

Under French law, homeowners can sub-let their main residence as a short-term let for a maximum of 120 days a year and must to seek permission from the local authority to do so. 

So anyone wishing to list their French property on Airbnb must first register it with the authorities and display their registration number on their listing. 

Airbnb has said it will automatically limit rentals on its site to 120 days in central Paris and the government has also announced plans to fine Airbnb for publishing listings that are not registered with the local authorities.

Sub-letting a rented property

You can’t do it. If you get found out, you’ll get into legal bother and could face a big fine, as well as being made to hand over any earnings to your landlord. So, just don’t.

Local rules

All of the above is complicated by the fact some cities – including Paris – have imposed their own rules to curb the influence of Airbnb on the short-term holiday rental market.

If you’re planning to let out your home on Airbnb, check what rules may apply with your local mairie.

Paris

Paris authorities have fought a lengthy legal battle with Airbnb, which they accuse of being a major factor in pricing locals out of central Paris.

While the city lost some aspects of the legal case, tougher rules are in place in the capital.

It is illegal, for instance, to offer a second home for rent on the popular site. Do so, and you risk a fine of €50,000 per room. The ban on subletting rented accommodation means that only people who own their own home in Paris can rent it out, and then only for a limited period.

The full details for Paris are available here

Please note that this is intended as a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. 


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