Brussels, 7 November 2022
Today, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation to enhance transparency in the field of short-term accommodation rentals and help public authorities ensure their balanced development as part of a sustainable tourism sector.
While short-term accommodation bookings offer benefits for hosts and tourists, they can create concerns for certain local communities struggling, for instance, with a lack of affordable housing. The new rules will improve the collection and sharing of data from hosts and online platforms. This will, in turn, inform effective and proportionate local policies to address the challenges and opportunities related to the short-term rental sector.
The new proposed rules will help to improve transparency on the identification and activity of short-term accommodation hosts, and on the rules they have to comply with, and will facilitate the registration of hosts. They will also tackle the current fragmentation in how online platforms share data and, ultimately, help prevent illegal listings. Overall, this will contribute to a more sustainable tourism ecosystem and support its digital transition.
New requirements for data sharing for short-term rentals
The new proposed framework will:
- Harmonise registration requirements for hosts and their short-term rental properties when introduced by national authorities: registration schemes will have to be fully on-line and user-friendly. A similar set of relevant information on the hosts and their properties, namely the “who”, “what” and “where”, should be required. When completing registration, hosts should receive aunique registration number.
- Clarify rules to ensure registration numbers are displayed and checked: online platforms will have to facilitate hosts to display registration numbers on their platforms. They will also have to randomly check whether hosts register and display the correct numbers. Public authorities will be able to suspend registration numbers and ask platforms to delist non-compliant hosts.
- Streamline data sharing between online platforms and public authorities: online platforms will have to share data about the number of rented nights and of guests with public authorities, once a month, in an automated way. Lighter reporting possibilities are foreseen for small and micro platforms. Public authorities will be able to receive this data through national ‘single digital entry points’. This will support well-targeted policy making.
- Allow the reuse of data, in aggregate form: the data generated under this proposal will, in aggregate form, contribute to tourism statistics produced by Eurostat and feed into the upcoming European data space for tourism. This information will support the development of innovative, tourism-related services.
- Establish an effective framework of implementation: Member States will monitor the implementation of this transparency framework and put in place the relevant penalties for non-compliance with the obligations of this Regulation.
The Commission’s proposal will be discussed in view of adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.
After its adoption and entry into force, Member States will have a two-year period to establish the necessary mechanisms for data exchanges.
Short-term rentals are developing fast in the EU, largely boosted by the platform economy. They represent about one quarter of all tourist accommodation in the EU and their number is increasing significantly across the EU. This trend was confirmed during the COVID crisis: the number of short-term rental bookings during the summers of 2020 and 2021 were above the equivalent 2018 levels. In addition, the number of bookings over the first half of 2022, has increased by 138% compared with the same period in 2021. Short-term rentals have become critical for the EU tourism ecosystem, including guests and hosts, and for many communities, creating both opportunities and challenges.
The proposal for a Regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services is a key action of the tourism transition pathway, published in February 2022. The proposal was announced in theCommission’s SME Strategyof March 2020 with a view to promoting the balanced and responsible development of the collaborative economy across the Single Market, in full respect of public interests.
It will also complement existing instruments, in particular the Digital Services Act which regulates online platforms, and the rules of the Directive on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation (DAC7).
For More Information
Proposal for a Regulationon data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services
The short-term accommodation rental sector has been boosted by the platform economy but has not developed with sufficient transparency. With this proposal, we are making it easier for hosts and platforms, big or small, to contribute to greater transparency in the sector. These sector-specific rules will complement the general rules of the Digital Services Act, which establish a set of obligations and accountability requirements for platforms operating in the EU.
Q&A: New Rules on Short-term Accommodation Rentals
Why do we need a Regulation on data collection and sharing for short-term accommodation rentals?
Short-term accommodation rentals are developing fast in the EU, largely boosted by the platform economy. They bring benefits to hosts, travellers and the broader tourism ecosystem. However, they also pose challenges, especially for local communities, which in some places are faced with less affordable housing, rising prices, or with excessive tourism flows.
This is why public authorities across the EU need quality data on short-term accommodation rentals, to make sound policies and implement them effectively. Authorities across the EU are taking action to obtain data from platforms and hosts. However, they do not always receive reliable data, as hosts do not systematically register properties and online platforms do not always share data, for various legal and technical reasons. Moreover, a fragmentation of different data-gathering initiatives adds to costs and reduces the usefulness of the different data sets collected.
Online platforms, in particular SMEs, and hosts need a clear, simple and sound legal framework to share data with public authorities.
This proposal aims at creating streamlined data collection and sharing obligations for hosts and online platforms. It will replace the current different and complex rules in Member States by one clear and proportionate framework for data collection and sharing throughout the EU Single Market. The new rules will complement existing instruments, such as the Digital Services Actor the Directive on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation(DAC7), which already provide public authorities with certain tools and data.
What are the benefits for travellers, the broader tourism ecosystem and citizens?
This proposal will provide public authorities with relevant data and tools to ensure that only legal listings can be advertised on online platforms. This will increase confidence and safety for travellers. Public authorities will also be able to provide better services to travellers and local communities including for instance better waste, water supply management or transport services, with more precise information on short-term rentals activity in specific areas.
The availability of anonymised aggregated data will benefit local communities and the broader tourism sector. This includes many SMEs providing services like cleaning or property management, as well as a range of other operators like restaurants or tourists’ guides. All of them will be able to use data to plan their activities and better understand tourism flows.
Citizens groups or associations will also be able to access aggregated data, putting them in a better position to contribute to policymaking and to protect their community’s quality of life.
What are the benefits for hosts of short-term accommodation rentals?
Hosts will benefit from simpler and clearer rules on how to register and offer short-term rentals. Relevant authorities will have to set up an online and simple registration process for hosts. Information and documentation to be provided will have to be necessary and proportionate. Once the registration procedure is completed, hosts will receive a unique registration number that will allow them to start their activity.
Since public authorities will need to make short-term rental rules available on national websites, hosts will also benefit from clear information and requirements to be respected. As public authorities will receive more data, responsible hosts can also expect better rules on short-term rentals and fewer illegal short-term rentals listings.
Does this proposal affect the ability of public authorities in Member States to regulate short-term accommodation rentals? Will public authorities be obliged to abandon their own registration system?
No, the proposal will not affect the ability of public authorities to regulate short-term accommodation rentals, and public authorities will just need to adapt their registration system. The proposal fully respects the principle of subsidiarity and the competences of public authorities.
According to the proposal, national and local authorities retain the power to design rules and policies on short-term rentals, to deal, for instance, with health and safety issues, urban planning, security and taxation issues. In doing so, they have to respect the principles of justification and proportionality enshrined in the EU Services Directive.
The data collected on the basis of this proposal should allow public authorities to better assess the situation on the ground and make more targeted and proportionate rules.
The new rules also stipulate that public authorities are responsible for setting up a registration system. Existing registration schemes, at national, regional or local level, can be maintained but will have to be in line with the requirements set out in this proposal. For instance, public authorities will have to ensure that registration is possible online and to issue a unique registration number per property.
How will the proposal help improve transparency in registrations of hosts and properties?
This Regulation harmonises the registration process for hosts and their properties. This will lead to a common set of data. Hosts will share data concerning themselves and their property with public authorities. On the basis of this online registration, hosts will automatically receive a unique registration number for the property.
Platforms will have to share the relevant information with public authorities on a monthly basis. This information will include:
- Data on the number of stays and guests;
- The registration number; and
- The web address (URL) of the listings for short-term rentals located in the territory of the requesting public authority.
This information would allow the identification of non-registered listings and help to enforce the registration obligation, further increasing transparency.
Platforms will also have to design their websites in such a way that hosts are able to display registration numbers. Platforms will have to carry out random checks to verify whether a registration obligation applies to the host and the validity of registration numbers.
Public authorities will be able to communicate with hosts and have a better overview of the properties rented out on a short-term basis in their territory. This will give them knowledge of the exact location of short-term accommodation rentals, their capacity, and whether these properties are part of a primary or other residence.
Finally, public authorities will be allowed to share the data in an aggregated and anonymised way with researchers, statistical offices and the citizens.
What kind of data is available to public authorities? How is personal data protected?
Public authorities, whether at local, regional or national level, will be able to request information only relevant to them. This information will be available to them via the new national single digital entry points, where platforms will make this data available.
In practice, this means that, for instance, authorities from a city will only be able to request data about their city but will not get access to the data of hosts in another city, or to the data of hosts in the surrounding regions.
Public authorities receiving personal data on hosts and their activity will be duly identified and authorised to receive it in full compliance with rules on personal data protection, in particular the General Data Protection Regulation.
Will authorities be able to request more data from online platforms?
Platforms will only share the data listed in the proposal.
However, they may have the obligation to share other data as required under separate pieces of EU legislation:
- Under the Directive on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation, online platforms will have to provide the data on income generated by the short-term rentals activity to tax authorities.
- Under the Digital Services Act, online platforms will have to answer specific requests in certain situations. This is an ad-hoc mechanism.
Are there lighter requirements for micro and small online platforms?
This proposal takes into account the situation of SMEs in the field of online platforms.
As a rule, platforms will have to share data on a monthly basis automatically. However, micro and small platforms that do not reach a monthly average of 2,500 hosts will have the possibility to benefit from a lighter regime. They will need to share data less frequently (quarterly) and will not be obliged to use automated means to supply the data. These platforms will be allowed to report manually.
How will the new regulation help hosts better understand the applicable national rules and procedures?
Member States will also have to ensure that rules applicable to the short-term rentals activity are online and easily accessible on national websites, and can also be accessed throughYour Europe and the Single Digital Gateway portals. Online platforms will also have to ensure that this information is accessible through their website.
Hosts will therefore have several ways to access information about the rules they must respect to start or carry out their activity.
How can the data collected be published by national and EU statistical offices and how will it feed into the tourism data space?
Member States will designate an entity for the aggregation and transmission of data to national and EU statistical offices for publication.
Aggregated data could in the future also be made available with sector-specific dataspaces, which will facilitate data exchange and sharing of short-term rentals data.
For More Information
Proposal for a Regulation on data collection and sharing relating to short-term accommodation rental services
Press release: Commission acts to promote transparency in the short-term rental sector to the benefit of all players
Source – EU Commission