Airbnb has won a battle to remain exempt from onerous European property regulations as the EU's top court ruled it was an online platform and not a property agent.
The case came before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) following a complaint by French tourism association AHTOP.
The issue underlines the quandary regulators face in dealing with new online services venturing into traditional businesses, but not subjected to the same rules.
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For Airbnb, the French case is significant as the International Olympic Committee has agreed to promote the company for accommodation during the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
In essence, judges accepted the company's arguments that it is an online platform and not a property agent.
"The nature of the links between the intermediation service and the provision of accommodation did not justify departing from the classification of that intermediation service as an 'information society service'," the CJEU said.
The court also faulted France for not notifying the European Commission, the EU executive, of the requirement for Airbnb to hold an estate agent's professional licence.
Airbnb welcomed the judgment.
A Desire "To Be Good Partners To Everyone"
"We want to be good partners to everyone and already we have worked with more than 500 governments to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay tax," it said in a statement.
Airbnb has in recent years duelled with hoteliers and authorities in cities such as New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris, having been accused of worsening housing shortages and pushing out lower income residents.
The case is C-390/18 Airbnb Ireland.
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