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Analysis. A draft measure was criticized by almost everyone: Airbnb owners, local governments that want local control, and the hotel industry that says it doesn’t go far enough.

Italy is wrestling with how (and whether) to regulate Airbnbs nationally

The first reaction to the draft bill to regulate short-term rentals (e.g. through Airbnb) prepared by the Ministry of Tourism Daniela Santanché was disappointment among the municipalities most exposed to the predatory touristic economy.

“This will not produce any effect for Milan,” argued Pierfrancesco Maran, Housing Councillor in the Milan administration. “Regarding tourist hospitality, the only thing that changes, according to the proposal put forward by the government, is that you have to rent an apartment for at least two nights. This is a missed opportunity. It’s the same as saying nothing changes at all.”

“This doesn’t solve anything. It’s a very serious matter that the government is stubbornly refusing to grant to the democratically elected municipal administrations the right to decide in which areas to limit new listings,” added the Tourism Councillor of Rome, Alessandro Onorato.

“A tiny step forward, but this move alone serves little purpose,” argued Florence Mayor Dario Nardella. “To be effective, the two-listing limit should first and foremost apply absolutely to each owner, whether person or legal entity, on the online platform. The mayors of the metropolitan cities had called for such things as a cap on the number of days of rental per lodging and, above all, zoning, that is, specific powers to the municipalities to put hard limits, even temporarily, on tourist rentals in certain areas of the city with particular historical value and with a particularly high concentration of the phenomenon. We will move forward with our own zoning resolution.”

Representing short-term renters, Marco Celani, president of the Italian Association of Managers of Short Term Rentals (AIGAB) and managing director of Italianway, complained in turn that the government had accepted “requests made by the hotel industry, aimed at introducing nonsensical limitations and restrictions and making the life of the owners more difficult.”

The association, together with Confedilizia, FIAIP and Prolocatur, denounced a “liberticidal drift from the constitutionally guaranteed right to be able to freely rent one’s own property.” Representing the hotel sector, Assohotel Confesercenti president Vittorio Messina said that “some of our suggestions have been accepted,” but “the heart of the problem remains the imbalance between accommodation types: hotels are subject to a more onerous tax regime and incur greater costs to be in compliance with the regulations.”

There are some differences in the current draft compared to the one discussed in May. The requirement for a CIN (National Identification Code) for each property has been kept, although it is not specified whether this will need to be applied for by the owner or by a property manager. The identification code will be assigned directly by the regions; municipalities will be responsible for checking that “hosts” include this number on every promotion channel, from social platforms to the front door of the property and building.

The minimum rental duration of two nights in districts of particular historical, artistic and environmental value, including surrounding areas that can be considered an integral part of them, has been preserved, but the exemption that had been included in the May draft for renters with large families has been eliminated. The number of properties that an individual landlord will be able to set aside for short-term rental, in a flat-fee tax regime, will drop from four to two. The fines were also increased: up to €5,000 for those who rent out an apartment for a single night in the disallowed areas and up to €8,000 for those who rent out a property without a CIN code.

There is also no shortage of this government’s trademark securitarianism: someone who has been sentenced to more than three years in prison or someone who has been “declared to be a habitual, professional criminal” will not be able to rent an apartment for the short term – thus forbidding those who have served their time from going on holiday.

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