Finding an affordable weekend Airbnb in Prague is already difficult, given the city’s increasing popularity and the rising prices that come with it. But now, nailing down a place to stay might be getting even tougher. To curb the detrimental effects of overtourism, Prague’s mayor Zdeněk Hřib is proposing plans to ban property owners from leasing out entire flats, unless it’s their own home and they are temporarily away. Otherwise, owners will only be able to rent out single rooms in accommodations shared by the owner.
Talking to the Observer, Hřib explained, “In the past, you could limit the amount of tourists in the city simply by approving a certain number of hotels of certain capacity during the process of building permits. Now in Prague there is no possibility for the city to limit the accommodation capacity for tourists. The numbers are really critical.”
Airbnb has contributed to transforming quiet residential districts into busy areas inundated with foreign tourists, leading to an inevitable increase in noise and disruption. The trend has also led to higher property values, making it difficult for residents to afford living in their own neighborhoods.
According to Prague City Tourism, in 2013, six million people visited Prague; in 2018, the number of visitors reached almost 7.9 million. Prague has 1.3 million inhabitants.
“This is far beyond the original idea of the shared economy where you are supposed to let a tourist stay in your home, you cook the breakfast and you tell them something about your nice city,” Hřib said. “This is just a distributed hotel, where you abuse the comfort of other citizens in the city, the local residents, and seek your own profit at their expense.”
Historically Airbnb has proven difficult to regulate in Europe, though Hřib hopes to convince regional authorities to let local governments decide on short-term rental regulations according to their specific needs.