“Cities versus short-term rental platforms: the European Union battle”, Lorenzo Vidal (CIDOB, Spain)

Lorenzo Vidal, Cities versus short-term rental platforms: the European Union battle, December 2019

The relationship between online short-term rental platforms and local governments has proven itself conflict-ridden. As these platforms deployed across the globe, cities were the first to feel the full force of their effects. Digital intermediation enabled processes of touristification that penetrated deep into the urban fabric, unfettered by existing regulations and zoning laws. In cities with high numbers of visitors, the reallocation of housing units to more profitable short-term stays has caused significant displacements of local tenants and reduction of the long-term residential stock. This has contributed to the emptying-out of historic neighbourhoods and the inflation of housing prices. Faced with popular discontent and protest, many municipal governments have implemented measures to contain and even reverse these trends. The tug-of-war between cities and platforms continues, as local authorities try to reign in what have now become global tech giants, with mostly uneven results.  

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