How Do I Know if My Paris Vacation Apartment Rental is Legal?

How Do I Know if My Paris Vacation Apartment Rental is Legal?

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Paris at night
Paris at night by Emax-photo/ Flickr

Many of our readers write to us asking about vacation apartment rentals in Paris. “How do I know if the apartment I’ve rented on Airbnb is legal?” “What’s the story about Paris cracking down on short-term rentals?”

For guests looking for safe rentals, here’s the skinny… in a nutshell:

The Paris mayor’s office allows short-term rentals if the apartment is the principal place of residence. Owners/tenants are allowed to rent out their apartment for a maximum of four months each year. The idea behind the law is to prioritize housing for Paris residents, as there’s an affordable housing shortage in the French capital. This law has been in existence since 1948, but didn’t get resurrected until 2009, when the city created a task force to investigate apartment rentals and enforce the law. Sometimes these individuals knock on doors in buildings, to see if short-term renters are inhabiting the apartments.

Paris square
Paris Square by André P. Meyer-Vitali/ Flickr

As stressed by Susie Hollands of Vingt Paris, apartment owners who wish to rent out their property on a short-term basis, can do so completely legally if the apartment falls under current commercial zoning. (This kind of apartment use must be filed with the city’s registrar and allowed by the building’s homeowner’s association.)

The law about short-term apartment rentals is currently being disputed by many Paris apartment rental companies. Adrian Leeds of Parler Paris Apartments, for example, has been quite vocal disputing it, because it “affects the owners’ ability to recuperate their investment and the guests who wish to stay or live in an apartment less than one year.”

Paris view
Paris view by Fabio Sola Penna/ Flickr

Airbnb has thrown a new wrench in the works. A game-changer for the hospitality industry, the home-sharing platform has grown exponentially—Paris is its largest global markets with 60,000 listings—and major marketing campaigns target both potential guests and hosts. (Just check out their attention-grabbing publicity stunts like this one, or the recent competition to win an overnight in an underwater room in the Paris Aquarium’s shark tank.) There’s been a backlash from the hotel sector about the legality of these unregulated apartments—who’s verifying that they have smoke detectors, for example? Or provide a basic standard accommodation? And do they conform when it comes to the short-term apartment rental rules? Some “hosts”, for example, may have multiple listings on Airbnb, which are rented out for more than four months each year.

To combat this, Airbnb and the Paris mayor’s office announced an agreement on March 31, 2016. When an Airbnb “host” reaches the ceiling for short-term rentals (120 days), s/he will receive an email from the mayor’s office as a reminder of the rules– inviting the host to come into compliance. If they fail to do so, the fine can be as much as 25,000 euros. (Airbnb is also collecting tourist taxes for the city on each rental.)

So what’s a visitor to Paris to do? How do you know if your apartment rental is legal? For many renters and agencies, it’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation. In essence, the responsibility for the apartment’s legality lies with the apartment owner, not the guest, nor the rental agencies that represent the apartments—many of which are reputable, tax-paying companies. It’s an evolving situation so it’s likely that more changes will be coming. Stay tuned as we’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date!

Paris sunset
Paris sunset by étoiles filantes/ Flickr

Photo credits: Paris at night by Emax-photo Flickr; Paris square by André P. Meyer-Vitali/ Flickr; Paris view by Fabio Sola Penna/ Flickr; Paris sunset by étoiles filantes/ Flickr

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Good question, good reply. A few caveats: The absence of fire alarms and fire escapes in the frequently ancient apartment buildings in Paris is more than an inconvenience…it can be a disaster. In addition, renting from an unlicensed, unregulated person can leave you standing alone if there is injury, theft, or mattresses full of bedbugs. Whether licensed or not, it is always a good practice to take a Google street-level “walk” around the neighborhood you plan to rent in. This way you can ascertain whether there are convenient grocery stores, pharmacies, and cafés nearby…also the Metro. You can also discover whether there are any nightclubs in the immediate vicinity…whose patrons tend to cluster outside to smoke which can keep you up all night and into the early morning… Note that you definitely want to avoid landing in a cluster of churches…the collective bell ringing of which can drive a tourist crazy early in the morning, seven days a week.

  2. Logic dictates any dwelling that is safe for an owner or tenant is safe for a traveler……although things may have changed lately (due to funds coming into the city from travelers) and buildings may be getting more updates and improvements than in past years (pre-airbnb), budget to mid range accommodations in Paris are historically comme si comme sa…as they say, rather ehhhh, let’s say.
    At any rate travellers have overwhelmingly said they prefer homes rather than hotels to stay in and this has been good on soooo many levels for owners, tenants who are allowed the luxury of having guests for funds, and for travelers, and for local economies……..and the hotels are for the most part still full. Good competition as they say is good for business; let everyone improve their game as society becomes more mobile than ever in the history of the world. The Chinese and the Indians for instance, as their middle classes swell, want to travel and there is a world welcoming them into their homes, and properties. Globally the improvement to the local economies and communities via the listing sites is tremendous, and cannot be discounted and should not be criminalized. Affordable housing is the problem of governments, local or federal, and should not be piled onto the backs of hard working property owners, who are not billionaires basking in ill sought windfalls. Additionally these TOT Taxes should be put to good use; as funds towards building affordable housing. The roll of the local governments should be to offer good support for citizens offering their homes and hospitality skills to travelers, teach good management and use their taxes to better their cities with affordable housing and not code enforcement and more staff to police owners interested in shares economy principles.

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