Rathaus Vienna, Source: EurocommPR / Mario Lang

Vienna wins a legal dispute against Airbnb

Vienna wins a legal dispute against Airbnb

The Austrian capital has blocked the renting out of community apartments on the website

The City of Vienna has won a lawsuit against the Airbnb platform for renting apartments that are municipal property. Even though the decision is not yet legally enforceable, Vienna is making a huge step towards creating clear rules for online platforms.

The Vienna Housing Municipal Service runs 220,000 public housing units and rents them out to residents at affordable rates. The city requested a ban on renting municipal apartments in January last year. Despite the fact that any rental agreement between the municipality and tenants expressly states that the apartments can not be sublet.

To prevent this, Vienna issued a list of all the apartments it owns and asked the internet portal to stop renting them out. The Municipality was forced to file a complaint because this was not handled. Airbnb has promised to remove the advertisements if the municipal housing service informs the web platform.

It is not legally binding yet

This has not been done in practice. It is merely impossible for the municipal authorities to check each advertisement separately and send information to the website, as explained by Deputy Mayor for Housing Catherine Gal. "Anyone who knowingly exploits a breach of contract by third parties is personally liable under federal law against unfair competition," she added last spring on the topic of competition law.

The city's apartments can no longer be offered on the website, according to the court but the decision is not yet final. These apartments, whose addresses are known to Airbnb, should not be spread on the platform with immediate effect. Airbnb has already stated that it would appeal the decision.

At the end of 2019, the City of Vienna launched a new pan-European offensive to develop clear rules for online platforms, similar to Airbnb. At the initiative of Vienna, a list of requests for regulation of the short-term rental property platform will be introduced in the Economic Committee of the Committee of the Regions (CoR) on 22 October.



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