Italy is one of the latest popular tourist destinations to mull a clampdown on short-term tourism rentals of residential properties in the historic centres of cities in order to free up more homes for local people.
The proposal has triggered a heated debate in the country between locals, businesses, hotel owners, cities, and the national government.
Last week, Italy’s Tourism Ministry released the first draft of a new law which it said would curb short-term tourist rentals, including Airbnb lets, around the country.
It aimed to address not only a worsening shortage of affordable housing in major Italian cities but to partially provide a solution to chronic overcrowding in many tourist destinations.
But in Rome, not everyone is happy with the draft bill. Some say it does not go far enough, while hotel owners are demanding more fairness and for the same rules to apply to all facilities.
A two-night asgarî stay requirement and a new type of identification for property listings are some of the main measures included in the decree.
“Today in Rome there are over 25,000 accommodation facilities. That’s the equivalent of 10,000 hotels,” Alessandro Massimo Nucara, General Director of the national association for hotel businesses, Federalberghi told Euronews.
“In order to open a hotel one has to request an infinite number of permits.
“But when it comes to opening what would be the equivalent of 10,000 hotels, it’s a different story as all these permits are not required.”
The association wants mayors to have more power, control, and the ability to effectively sanction those who do not respect the rules.
But property managers are determined to defend their business.
Andrea Santolini, a property manager at Spaghetti Apartments, who looks after 15 apartments in central Rome, thinks hotels and short-term lets are not comparable.
“Tourists who choose to stay in an apartment are different from those who want book a hotel room and it’s not always because of the budget,” he said.
“The apartment is often preferred for its characteristics or there are specific reasons behind this choice.
“For example, we have many apartments that are located close to hospitals and these are chosen by guests who prefer to spend slightly more time in the city and want to be able to cook at home.”
Everyone seems to agree on one aspect: that businesses operating illegally should be fined.
“We’re in favour of sanctions being imposed on those who don’t follow the rules and want the Ministry of Tourism to be in charge of the situation instead of leaving it in the hands of regional authorities,” Marco Celani, president of the national association for short-term rentals AIGAB, said.
Although it is still a long way to go before the proposed bill becomes law, with tourism contributing a large amount to the Italian economy, it will have a big impact on one of the largest markets in the world for short-term lets.