Italian City Stands Against Airbnb Amid Housing Strains

( – Officials in Florence, Italy announced new rules on Monday that would ban short-term rentals within the historic city center through Airbnb and similar platforms as part of the city’s effort to free up more homes for locals, Reuters reported.

In rules approved on Monday, the Tuscan city will also offer three years of tax breaks for the owners of existing short-term rentals if they agree to switch to long-term leases.

Mayor Dario Nardella said Florence chose to take the lead after the Italian government’s plans to regulate short-term rentals proved to be disappointing.

According to the mayor, in 2016, Florence had fewer than 6,000 Airbnb rentals. But today, there are over 14,300 Airbnb listings in the city. Meanwhile, the average cost for a standard long-term lease skyrocketed by 42 percent over the same period. As a result, the 40,000 permanent residents of the city center are being forced to live in apartment hotels, the mayor said.

Much like the rest of Europe, Italy’s housing crisis has been fueled by a mixture of property shortages, low salaries, a glut of short-term rentals, and high inflation, hitting low-income individuals and college students the hardest.

Marco Stella, the regional coordinator of Forza Italia, one of the parties in Italy’s ruling coalition, said it will appeal Florence’s new rules in the administrative court.

Lorenzo Fagnoni, the president of the tourist rental association Property Managers Italia, said the new rules in Florence are the “completely wrong choice” and are contrary to “the liberalism of the market.”

The Italian government is working on legislation that would require a minimum 2-night stay in properties located in historic city centers and other high-tourist municipalities. The bill would require each rental property to obtain a national ID code to regulate and track rentals. Property owners who do not comply could face a 5,000-euro fine.

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