Strict controls on property owners collaborating with Airbnb short-term rental platforms to protect users of these services, ensure competition in the tourism industry, tackle distortions in the real estate market and fair tax distribution, new framework for short-term leases processed by the Ministries of Tourism and Finance.

The aim of the government is to have a comprehensive, sustainable and operational regulation, as tax evasion in this area is also flourishing.

According to the owners’ own forecasts, about 1 in 3 homes currently rented out to tourists do not have a Real Estate Number (AMA), so they are tax evaders.

Airbnb and estimates

In particular, according to estimates by the Panhellenic Association of Real Estate Managers (PASYDA), of the approximately 90,000 homes on the most popular platform, Airbnb, some 30,000 – 35,000 are estimated to have no AMA. This was confirmed by recent audits by the Independent Public Revenue Office, which identified about 20,000 properties that had not been declared.

It is noted that the tightening of controls on short-term rental platforms (eg Airbnb) also heralds the House Budget 2020 Draft. According to the preliminary draft, short-term lease revenue is set to reach 60m euros.

In any case, as Minister of Tourism Haris Theocharis has already made clear, there will be no surprise about the new framework of short-term leases. The regulation is in the final line (expected to be voted on by the end of the year) and will be a comprehensive government proposal.

The guide to the new regulatory framework, which will be consulted by all stakeholders when completed, will be transparency in transactions, protection of users of these services, ensuring competition in the tourism industry and equitable distribution of tax burdens. .

The axes of adjustment

Among other things, it is considered to set rules for short-term leases similar to those of rented rooms, since these platforms are now part of the tourist product, contributing 10% of total revenue. For this reason, the Ministry of Tourism intends to take additional measures to preserve the quality of the tourist experience and its social footprint.

In this context, measures such as:

-Tourists will be required to keep a complete record of the property they are renting (eg if it is legally built, how many square feet it is, what services it provides, etc.) and to be “known” to the Tax Office.

– Properties leased to tourists must meet the minimum standards of hospitality so that the tourist experience and the tourist product can be safeguarded even through Airbnb leases. In any case, the accommodation available should not lag behind in terms of licensed rooms.

-Also, properties to be leased should meet the general security rules and have eg. instructions on what to do in the event of an earthquake, flood or fire.

– Following this provision, it is considered that short-term rentals are even obliged to have a minimum insurance coverage plan.

– With regard to the extension of the residence fee to short-term rental properties, for reasons of equal treatment of accommodation, this is something that should be clarified in the coming days, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance. According to sources they are aware of, it must first be clarified whether the stay will be maintained in other hotel accommodation and rooms to rent. There are considerations in the cabinet for its complete or partial abolition (eg only applicable for one quarter / year).

It is recalled that for hotels and rooms, the per-night fee charged to accommodation customers is valid from 2018. This fee is 4 euros per night, 5-star rooms per room, 3 euros per 4-star hotels, 1.5 euros in 3 star hotels and 0.50 euros in 1 to 2 stars hotels and rooms to let.

Revenue

However, according to figures from the Independent Public Revenue Office, the year spent on hotel accommodation was twice the budget! Specifically, a residence tax of approximately EUR 135 million was established against a budget of EUR 74 million.

It is noted that for the tourism businessmen, the residence fee is considered another tax that affects the competitiveness of the sector, while not contributing to the improvement of public tourism infrastructure.

They are therefore demanding that it be abolished or at least valid only in the third quarter, in which case the largest volume of visitors is recorded. For short-term leases they explain that it is now a high demand accommodation option and is part of the tourist market. Rules for ensuring fair competition should therefore be laid down.

At the table of discussions on the new regulatory framework governing short-term leases have been restored mainly in terms of rented rooms and other arrangements, however, which are not adopted by the government (eg, each owner can lease up to 2 property, the total term of the lease per year shall not exceed 90 days or the sum of EUR 12,000).

source – tanea.gr