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Airbnb found liable for illegal sublet of Paris home

The holiday rental platform should have checked if the tenant was allowed to sublet, the Court of Appeal ruled

Airbnb has been found jointly responsible for the illegal subletting of a Paris property Pic: Daniel Krason / Shutterstock

Airbnb has been held jointly responsible for infringing a rental agreement by not checking if the tenant was allowed to sublet before advertising her home on its site.

The Paris Court of Appeal ruled on January 3 that the firm, an online platform where people can list or rent properties for short-term use, had “largely contributed” to the offence by not asking for proof that the rental was legal.

Read more: Airbnb host and company fined €189,000 for illegal rental in Paris

The case centred on a tenant who had sublet her home in the popular Marais district in the 4th arrondissement of Paris without authorisation in 2016 and 2017, for 534 days.

In 2020, a Paris judicial court had already held the platform jointly liable and this decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

It made the distinction that Airbnb is not simply a host that puts two individuals in touch with one another and reminds them of the rules of renting but a content publisher, which plays an active role in the drafting of advertisements and their content via "precise instructions" and “numerous constraints”.

As such, the platform must also ensure that all the ads published on its site are legal. 

Read more: Developer bans Airbnb-style rentals in new French homes

Jonathan Bellaïche, the property owner's lawyer, told AFP that the decision is a reminder "that these web giants have the necessary means to ensure the dissemination of content that respects our legal principles”.

Airbnb and the tenant will have to pay the owner nearly €32,400, the difference between the money fraudulently earned from subletting (€51,936) and the 20 months of rent (€19,540) paid to the owner over the period, as well as her €7,000 legal fees.

In a statement to AFP, Airbnb France argued "this case is strictly a private dispute between a landlord and a tenant" and said it was considering "all options to contest the decision".

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