Here’s why City Hall is wrong to turn its back on local families who share their homes

Let me be clear; Airbnb wants to be regulated in Barcelona, and we have zero tolerance for bad actors. We want to work with City Hall to clamp down on business operators who break the rules, while protecting local families who share their homes to boost their income and support their families.

In Barcelona, this guiding principle hits a roadblock. Unlike other major cities across the world, Barcelona has no rules for local families who occasionally share their homes.

In addition to this, City Hall has persistently walked away from discussions on how it and Airbnb can work together to distinguish between these two groups and enact workable solutions to tackle bad actors, while protecting local home sharers.

It’s why Janet Sanz is wrong to say that City Hall ‘is not fighting home sharing’ or local families who share their homes. It is – and by choosing to promote a campaign of fear and confusion over workable solutions, it’s local families who stand to lose most.

Home sharing is different to other forms of accommodation in Barcelona. The typical host using Airbnb earned €5,500 by sharing their space for 70 nights last year. More than two thirds of hosts say they share their primary residence and almost a quarter say that sharing their home help them avoid eviction or foreclosure.

Airbnb has worked with more than 300 governments on progressive rules to support families. In Europe alone, Airbnb is currently in conversation with more than 100.

Each host has a story and a reason why they open their homes to guests. They include Lluis, who says ‘Airbnb helped me through the financial crisis’, and Begoña, who is able to fund the education of her two daughters by sharing spare rooms in her home.

It’s what makes Airbnb unique, and what makes the discussion on clear home sharing rules so important.

Across the world, Airbnb has worked with more than 300 governments on progressive rules to support families like these. In Europe alone, Airbnb is currently in conversation with more than 100 governments on clear and simple home sharing rules.

Sadly, today, Barcelona is not one of them, and the rules that are applied to home sharing were written before Airbnb was even invented.

In the absence of such a collaboration, Airbnb has already taken steps to tackle issues facing Barcelona. In the last week alone, Airbnb has removed more than 1,000 listings that could affect long-term housing availability, as part of our ‘One Host, One Home’ policy. For context, that’s almost double the number of tourist dwellings that have ceased to operate following City Hall action.

Only six months ago, the Administrative Court of Barcelona overturned a fine against Airbnb and made clear that Barcelona should work to adopt clear rules for home sharing. It said there is ‘an orphanhood’ in the regulation of phenomenons like Airbnb which will not be satisfied by fines, sanctions or existing rules.

It’s time to learn the lessons of the past and to find solutions to a brighter future. Rhetoric needs to be replaced by action. Airbnb wants to be good partners to Barcelona. We want to help end the confusion for local families and work together with City Hall on clear and modern rules that work for everyone.

Sergio Vinay

Public Policy, Airbnb