Flemish tourism minister Ben Weyts has levied a fine of €25,000 on the room-hire system AirBNB for refusing to deliver details of those who are renting out rooms, for the use of inspection services. AirBNB – which allows home-owners to rent out rooms to tourists at competitive rates – operates worldwide, but Weyts is only concerned with how the US-based business applies the rules operating in Flanders. And he warned that the fine of €25,000 was only a starting point.
“Some years ago we agreed they would provide details of their Flemish providers,” Weyts said. “Not all details, but enough for our inspection services to be able to carry out inspections to see if renters were in line with for example fire safety rules. These inspections are also applied to owners of B&Bs and hotels.”
Weyts’ fine is not the only one faced by AirBNB: last week New York City mayor Bill De Blasio levied a fine of $1,500 on every AirBNB address which declined to provide details for local ordinances. The platform is under pressure worldwide from the hotel and professional accommodation sector.
Belgium counts some 10,000 AirBNB addresses, half of them in Flanders – tourism is a regional responsibility. The income nationally is estimated at some €80 million, all of which is taxable – for those who declare it.