Cyprus & World News

CYPRUS: Airbnb market to be regulated by law

12 September, 2018

Flats rented out through web-based platforms such as Airbnb are to be included in the law regulating tourist units on an official register which is to be created, as MPs look to amend a bill submitted prior to the summer break.

The initial bill, which was submitted jointly by DISY President Averof Neophytou and EDEK MPElias Myrianthous envisaged the inclusion of the self-service tourist accommodation becoming eligible to receive an operating license but left out Airbnb apartments in residential areas.

The House Commerce Committee now proposes that these flats are included on the precondition that the rest of the tenants of the building consent to a specific flat being used as tourist accommodation.

When first discussed at the House in June, legislators found it best to leave apartments in residential buildings out of the law’s scope of regulation, invoking the possibility of a backlash in the event of the legalization of renting apartments in residential areas.

Ruling party DISY chairman Neophytou clarified that according to the current law, it is forbidden to rent on a short-term basis, any accommodation be it an apartment, individual villa or residence.

He said parliament “will not allow owners of apartments in residential areas to rent them out as tourist accommodation units while the area’s residents object to it”.

It is also expected that the committee will propose the creation of a register that will obligate Airbnb owners to register them if their income exceeds a threshold of €15,600.

Commerce Committee chair DIKO’s Angelos Votsis, said that the bill aims to give the right to those who currently rent their premises to regulate their activity with their inclusion on a special register.

"Of course," he said, "the owners will be taxed and pay VAT according to the provisions of the legislation".

DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou said that while some households will be able to increase their income, the state will also have an extra income as these properties will have to be registered and licensed.

EDEK’s Myrianthous echoing the same argument, said the state is losing revenue that it could receive through licensing rights stressing that some 40,000 accommodations are not licensed. He said that with the proposed legislation Airbnb accommodation will be licensed but with less strict procedures.

He noted that there are around 20,000 illegal villas and dwellings, with most owners interested in acquiring a license.

According to what was mentioned in the committee by stakeholders, 1/3 of tourists arriving in Cyprus are seeking accommodation in non-registered units.

An estimated 3,000 of the above mentioned non-registered tourist accommodations are to be found on Airbnb’s platform.

The development was welcomed by the island’s hoteliers as the Cyprus Hotels Association (PASYXE) and the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises have campaigned regulating to regulate the Airbnb market.