THE Supreme Court of Justice in the Balearic Islands (TSJIB) has annulled a €300,000 fine handed to Airbnb for advertising holiday rentals in Mallorca that were not registered with the autonomous government.
The Ministry of Innovation, Research and Tourism had slapped Airbnb with the fine in February of 2018 after determining that the popular online marketplace had ‘commercialised tourist homes illegally in Mallorca.’
According to the Ministry, Airbnb advertised accommodation without declaring a property’s tourist registration number.
This became a legal requirement in the Balearic Islands in July 2017 when the government amended the General Tourism Law to step up their control over holiday rentals.
In November 2017, the Ministry had made a formal request to Airbnb asking that they remove the adverts within 15 days.
Further checks on the website showed that the online platform continued to violate the regulations which they considered to be a very serious infraction, thus imposing Airbnb with a fine of €300,000.
Airbnb had appealed the penalty, which was initially dismissed, forcing them to go to the Supreme Court.
However, yesterday, the TSJB ruled in favour of Airbnb, determining that they were not responsible for carrying out checks on all published rentals.
The ruling stated: “Airbnb cannot be given the obligation to carry out an exhaustive and detailed review of all adverts published on their website. “
It added that they are ‘protected by exemptions in liability, as per the Directive 2000/31/EC.’
It comes after a prediction was made that thousands of apartments across Spain could soon be returned to the traditional rental market following the collapse of tourism due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Barcelona deputy mayor Janet Sanz said ‘a third or even half’ of the city’s 9,600 tourist pisos would likely become ‘normal apartments’ over the next three years.
This she said would provide ‘hope’ for the city which has long been at war with Airbnb over advertising thousands of unlicensed holiday homes, therefore allowing the government to regain control of the market.
For years Airbnb has been plagued with complaints, with calls from hoteliers to boycott the online booking platform due to the belief that their business practices have pushed a countless number of businesses into bankruptcy.