How Florence, Italy, Is Fighting Back Against Airbnb


  • 30% of homes in central Florence, Italy, are listed on Airbnb, the Wall Street Journal said.
  • Florence’s rents have risen 42% since 2016 and locals, no longer able to afford it, are leaving.
  • The city has banned new rentals in the city center, but many worry it doesn’t go far enough.

Florence’s historic center is teeming with history and art from the picturesque Duomo cathedral to Michaelangelo’s masterwork sculpture of David.

It’s also teeming with tourists visiting to take it all in, and the Airbnbs that sleep them. 30% of homes in the nearly two-square-mile district are listed on the short-term rental platform, according to a study out of Rome’s La Sapienza University cited by the Wall Street Journal. It’s wreaking havoc on the city.

Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, told the Journal that residents complain of being treated like “hotel staff” with “dirty sheets everywhere, noise, intercom calls at all hours” from unaware tourists asking for assistance.

In October, Florence decided to ban all new Airbnb listings in the city center. It’s a move that comes as short-term-rental listings across the entire city have doubled since 2016 and long-term rents have risen by 42% in that time, according to Nardella. Florence native Linda Sanesi said even residents with “a lot of money” can’t find apartments to live in as rents climb.

“We’re trying to break through the country’s inertia,” Nardella told the Journal, adding that municipalities have little power to affect change and that a national law regulating short-term rentals is needed. “I’m convinced that if we take the first step, others will follow.”

Florence is not alone in its attempts to limit the reach of short-term rentals. This fall, New York City enacted strict measures that facilitated a 77% drop in listings across the city. Earlier this year, Portugal banned any new Airbnbs over fears of becoming “some sort of Disneyland.”

Florence native and housing activist Massimo Torelli told the Journal that the noise and disruption in buildings overtaken by Airbnb add to the reasons residents are moving out.

“How long are you going to endure people coming and going at all hours, partying, all the stuff we do when we’re on vacation?” he said. “It’s normal, but do you want to live there? Venice has been lost, but we can still save Florence.”

An Airbnb spokesperson told Business Insider that the company hopes to “continue our work with the local authorities in Florence on a way forward that protects local families who rely on the income they make from hosting.”

They continued, “Airbnb is an economic lifeline for many Italians; 1 in 3 Hosts say the extra income helps them afford their homes and rising living costs. We recognise the challenges facing historical cities and welcome progress from the Italian government on new national rules, which will help support the policy goals of cities like Florence.”

Efforts to combat the effects of short-term rentals haven’t broken through nationally. In a draft budget proposal, the Italian government proposed raising the tax on rental profits to 26% from 21%, but starting with the second apartment an owner rents out.



Source link: https://www.businessinsider.com/airbnb-florence-italy-short-term-rentals-ban-2023-12

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