First €5,000 fine for an illegal Paris sublet on Airbnb

The pressure is building on those who are renting their Paris homes on Airbnb illegally. After recent ‘sting’ operations across the city carried out to locate the owners illegally rented housing, the Paris authorities are now targeting the only thing that will curb the rise in illegal rentals –  the pockets of those concerned.

For the first time a Parisian tenant who sublet their home over the Internet without permission of the owner has been sentenced by the Paris courts.

In a decision dated April 6 – revealed by the website Legalis – the District Court of the 5th arrondissement of Paris sentenced the offenders to pay €5,000 to the owner. This does not include the €2,500 euros of charges ‘lawyers.

But with €22,000 in revenues, was a €5,000 fine enough?

Subletting is nothing new, cities across Europe are fighting to curb this problem. The rise of websites like Airbnb has only compounded the issue. In this case the court found that the tenant never informed the owner of what they were doing and therefore did not get his permission, as required under French law (and the law pretty much everywhere else across Europe).

The lessee, a Parisian stage director, sublet his apartment of 60 sqm with a terrace for  €700 per week, or €4,000 per month. He had been renting it for three years, which would have generated around €22,000 in rentals, according to the owner’s lawyer.

Subletting apartments is one thing, but for many owners of property in Paris this is proof that the authorities are getting serious with those stepping outside of the boundaries of the law.

Owners intending to let their own apartment in Paris on a website such as Airbnb need to gain permission from the local municipality. Most do not.

The French tax authorities are also becoming increasingly interested in this kind of undeclared income, while Parliament could potentially toughen controls too.

Tourism is the backbone of the city, so many hope that any new rules will be fair and reasonable for both owners but also hoteliers who are essentially losing income as a result of such ventures. Whatever happens, owners need to set their affairs in order or they will forever be looking over their shoulders.