Airbnb bows to EU demands on room fees

Airbnb has bowed to EU pressure and will avoid potentially multi-million euro fines after making changes to the way it advertises the fees for its popular room-booking service. [EPA/EFE]

Airbnb, the global online accommodation platform, has bowed to EU pressure and will avoid potentially multi-million euro fines after making changes to the way it advertises the fees for its popular room-booking service.

On Thursday (11 July), the European Commission announced that the San-Francisco based platform had passed a year-long probe by its consumer watchdog, the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network.

Airbnb was slapped with an ultimatum by the European Commission last summer, after the EU executive complained that some of Airbnb’s terms and the way it presented prices on its app were in breach of the EU’s unfair commercial practices directive, the unfair contract terms directive and the regulation on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters.

The app, which allows homeowners to rent out their homes or rooms for short periods, has become increasingly popular in recent years because of the competitive prices it offers in comparison with hotels.

The EU executive said it was satisfied that Airbnb has “improved and fully clarified the way it presents accommodation offers to consumers” and the company will now avoid the prospect of hefty fines for not complying with EU rules.

“For these summer holidays, Europeans will simply get what they see when they book their holidays,” the bloc’s Consumer protection commissioner, Věra Jourová, said in a statement.

“Now consumers can also trust that the price they see on the first page will be the price to pay in the end. I expect other platforms to follow suit,” Jourova added.

Airbnb users will now see the total price on the results page, including all service and cleaning charges and local taxes, and clearly define whether the accommodation is being offered by a private host or a professional.

Airbnb has also clarified that EU/EEA users can bring judicial proceedings against Airbnb in their home country, and has added a link to an online dispute resolution platform to its website.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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