Airbnb Faces Amsterdam Ban, Active Hunt For Users By Authorities

Is the crowd-powered travel site breaking the law in the Netherlands?

While Airbnb has already seen a number of surprising legal challenges to its room-finding service in its U.S. home, it's now facing a strict crack-down in Amsterdam. According to TheNextWeb, the local authorities have already ruled that an "illegal hotel" description, an "apartment or house without an official hotel permit that can be rented by tourists in return for money," fits the room-finding powers of Airbnb's 21st Century social system.

Authorities had been investigating since November 2012, but have now stepped up their efforts and are sending civil servants into the city's streets to find "illegal hotels." Part of the concern is the usual "fire safety" trick, but it seems the main beef is that the authorities want tourists only staying in licensed premises.

Is Airbnb just too challenging, breaking too many social norms for the law and the authorities to keep up?

Update: The local authorities in Amsterdam have a Facebook post on this matter. In it it's suggested that the media is overblowing this news, particularly in terms of the echo chamber of social sharing. The post suggests that the authorities are indeed concerned about "illegal hotels" for proper legal reasons, as reported recently in the Dutch news site Parool, but notes that Airbnb isn't inferred at all in this article.

[Image: Flickr user ouishare]

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  • ganjibus

    It's not that AirBnB is breaking social norms... it's that these illegal hotels drive up rents for locals and encourage real estate speculation. 

  • Almansour55

    Their fees are expensive but the service is not bad at all! Staying with private indiiduals in private homes provides a travel experience you cannot find elsewhere!

  • rod_edwards

    AirBnB and its snarky defenders drive me nuts. Why wouldn't authorities want people to stay in properly licensed hotels? There's safety considerations, insurance considerations, and the rights of the other tenants that have to put up with their neighbours turning their building into a hotel. Zoning laws and licensing exist for good reasons; AirBnB's model is based on exploiting quickly closing gaps in enforcement.