Judicial Tribunal Of Paris: Airbnb Liable For Civil Damages Caused Through Their Platform
The judicial tribunal of Paris has issued an important verdict deeming Airbnb a "publisher" of the ads which appear on its site and, for the first time, requiring AirBnB to pay damages for illegal activity which took place through its platform. While AirBnB plans to appeal the decision, if the judgement stands it could have significant legal repercussions across France and Europe.
The background of the case is as follows. A tenant sub-let a property in Paris for 537 days between 2016 and 2017. The tenant did this without the landlord's permission or knowledge and the amount earnt exceeded the property's annual rent, which is illegal in France. On this basis, the judge ordered the tenant to pay civil damages to the owner and surrender the property.
However, the court went further than just punishing the tenant, it also ruled that the AirBnB Ireland, the European subsidiary of AirBnB, had "contributed to the damages suffered by the lessor" by not taking sufficient care to ensure the legality of the sublet when they published it on their site. The judge stated that, because of the active role AirBnB played in organizing the listing, the firm should be considered a 'co-publisher' of the ad and, therefore, be held jointly liable for the damages.
The court ordered AirBnB and the sub-lessor to jointly compensate the landlord 52.000€, to make up for the rent received, and the owner's legal costs. AirBnB was also ordered to pay back the commissions it received from subletting the property.
If the judgement holds, it will potentially give cities, property owners, customers, and others a way to challenge the illegal activities of the short-term rental industry and, most importantly, hold the platforms liable for the damages they cause.
As outlined in ReformBnB principles for a sustainable short-term rental industry, establishing the platforms legal obligation to ensure their listings comply with the law is essential to reforming this industry and addressing the serious problems it creates.
Global ReformBnB Forum
The Global ReformBnB Forum is a forum for the discussion of the short-term rental industry, made up of hospitality and tourism associations from across the world. We work together to develop and propose solutions for the short-term rental industry. https://reformbnbbarcelona.com/