Prague takes a stand against short-term Airbnb rentals in landmark court ruling

Prague City Hall has forbidden the owner of a residential building on Jungmannova Street from renting out rooms on the platform. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.10.2023 11:49:00 (updated on 06.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Prague 1 district has prevented the owner of a building from letting out rooms on a short-term basis on accommodation provider Airbnb, Seznam Zprávy reports. Prague City Hall has also validated the decision, leading to the end of the business.

Initially, the apartment owner had purchased the property with the intention of renting it out on a short-term basis, but complaints from other residents in the building led to a reconsideration of this practice. 

"It's the beginning. This case dragged on for about a year, and dozens more like it are under investigation. There will be more of them now."

President of the Tolerable Living in the Center of Prague Association, Petr Městecky

Antisocial activity and high prices

The residents argued that the owner was effectively turning the apartment into a hotel, an activity that contradicted the original building approval. Following numerous noise- and disturbance-related complaints, they took their grievances to the courts, which have now conclusively decided that the operations were illegal.

In pre-Covid 2019, an estimated 14,000 units of accommodation in Prague were being rented out on Airbnb. About 15 percent of all apartments in the capital’s Old Town were used for the platform, according to the Prague Institute of Planning and Development.

What should happen to Airbnb in Prague?

It should be completely banned in the center 65 %
It can remain, but entire buildings should not be used solely for Airbnb 22 %
It should operate as freely as it wants 13 %
612 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open

The rise of Airbnb has exacerbated such issues. A report by the city's Institute of Planning and Development revealed that the number of Airbnb listings nearly tripled between March 2016 and May 2018. Since then, the availability of short-term rental beds increased from 17,913 to 52,738, leading to elevated property values and rents that have priced out many locals, while also contributing to noise and disturbance for long-term residents.

Setting a new precedent?

Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda has proposed regulations to limit property owners from renting out entire flats on Airbnb, except in cases where the property is their primary residence and they are temporarily absent. This measure aims to mitigate the adverse impacts of tourism and prioritize the needs of Prague's residents.

Owners of individual apartments in a building are legally allowed to rent out their property for the short term, for instance on the rental platform Airbnb, the Czech Supreme Court confirmed earlier this year. That ruling means a homeowners' association of a building is unable to prevent a purchased property from being rented out. However, owners should not buy property for the sole reason of letting out all rooms on a very short-term basis.

Although implementing effective regulations might be a complex endeavor, promising progress is being made. The recent decision of Prague 1's building authority to restrict the rental activities of an apartment owner on Airbnb is a significant step towards addressing the unregulated short-term rental market.

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