79.Cité le soir2I love AirBnB–we’ve used it on trips, and it’s great when you want a kitchen or more than one bedroom, things that are rare in hotels. Especially on longer trips, eating out three meals a day is just too much.

La Suite Barbès

We searched for just the right property for more than a year. When we started looking, there were about 100 AirBnB listings around Carcassonne. Once we found the most beautiful apartments in Carcassonne–decorative moldings as elaborate as ours are very rare, as are ceilings that soar as high–we completely renovated them, with new wiring and plumbing, and restored the original tomette floors. We furnished the apartments with locally sourced antiques. The renovation took another year.

You don’t find lutes above just any fireplace.

By the time we listed our apartments, there were more than 300 listings. Unfortunately, when we went to pay our taxes (there are two–the taxe de séjour–a hotel tax–and income tax), the folks working in the tax department expressed surprise when we mentioned how the number of listings had exploded in such a short time. They had under 100 listings. The others were renting illegally. “The law of the jungle,” a minister called it.

l’Ancienne Tannerie

This hurts the city by depriving it of revenue and it hurts the AirBnB hosts who do play by the rules (and hotels, which are important employers and taxpayers). As of July. 1, AirBnB will collect the taxe de séjour (but not the income tax) on rentals and pay it Jan. 1 directly to municipalities in France. The move may cause the number of illegal listings to drop, though I imagine some will continue, betting that it might take a long time before anybody gets around to auditing them.Logo 4 étoiles 2017How can you tell whether a listing is legal? Look for the stars–not the AirBnB stars given by guests, but the official stars. The government gives a tax break to property owners that get classified by stars (if you don’t pay any taxes, you don’t care about a tax break, eh). To get it, the rental property must be inspected–which is an important guarantee to you as a renter. The inspection is not just for amenities and taste but also for safety.  It’s probably the clearest way to see that a rental is legal. Of course, if a property gets a bad rating, they might not want to show how many stars they have (or don’t have). Both our apartments have four stars, which is as high as we can get without having a pool or elevator–neither possible in a 17th century building in the center of the part of town that dates to 1260.

The huge country kitchen in l’Ancienne Tannerie.

Here’s more from when we received our official stars: for la Suite Barbès and for l’Ancienne Tannerie.

We’d love to welcome you in Carcassonne, but if you don’t stay with us, please, at least choose another host who pays their taxes!IMG_2342

24 thoughts on “How to Avoid AirBnB Scofflaws

      1. Over the years we’ve stayed in France, we’ve experienced a range of accommodation, especially when the boys were small. In nearly thirty years 😳 of French Holidays, we’ve only had one really bad experience and that was when we used the owners abroad website. We learnt our lesson!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. While looking into putting my house on airbnb for whenever I’m not there (or when I’m willing to stay elsewhere) I noticed that the same place was listed by multiple users with similar names. Then I found out that there’s a 2-tiered regulatory system in Philadelphia allowing easier terms for people who rent their homes out less than 90 days a year than for homes used as full time vacation rentals, which require a business license.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You make some great points. The thing I always found with the French star system is that it’s simply a validation of the infrastructure, there is no quality check — for that, you really need peer reviews. That said, I agree that people should do it the right way and pay proper taxes. You guys have poured a lot of love and hard work into your renovations which must surely make them special places to stay in. We’re currently staying in an Airbnb in Vancouver which is nice enough but has been done on the cheap – for example, the windows barely close. I wish an independent system existed over here to double check what is claimed on the website!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not speaking of where you are, but I know some places here that are real dumps. But if they are cheap and don’t promise much, they get five-star reviews because they meet (low) expectations. Considering the work involved, anyplace that’s very cheap is almost by definition illegal, because otherwise it wouldn’t be profitable. That hurts the legitimate listings, which look expensive by comparison because they are including taxes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I beg to differ with your assumption that all spaces that are very cheap are by “definition” illegal. What about places that are inherited or don’t hold a mortgage? I’ve stayed at several of these flats in Rome, London, and in several places in the USA that were very inexpensive (under 60€ per night) and were more often than not inherited. They may not be fully renovated or furnished with antiquities but they meet the needs of a very large group of travelers.

        In the cities that require that a “hotel tax” be assessed, every one I’ve stayed in showed proof of compliance. Also, not all countries, cities or states require this. As far as a person paying their income tax on the rental income this is really not a business issue.

        More interestingly, the French government has limited the number of days that a person can rent out a secondary residence (120 days in Paris) because they’re trying to discourage the property speculation that short term rental supported by AirBnB has encouraged as this has been shown increase the cost of housing and reduce supplies of rental stock to local residents. (For example, in San Francisco you can’t rent out short-term any space you don’t occupy during the period of the rental.)

        The new regulations in France that now require that AirBnB refrain from listing properties that are not registered or risk a huge fine if they do so will certainly have an affect on the number of people listing but I’m sure that most cities won’t see a significant decrease in listing or decrease in price. People will still most often look to AirBnB to provide flats or homes that are family friendly and provide good value and a comfortable place to stay.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I know of a listing here that’s €17 a night for four people. I don’t see how they pay the electricity and water, much less taxes with such low rates. And I do care about the income tax, not just the hotel tax, because it’s significant and because hotels and legitimate owners are paying it.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. We too feel very strongly about folk who do not follow the legitimate route and pay their taxes. The reduction is substantial if you are registered with tourism office so it’s really a no brainer.

    We have lost out a bit this year to cheaper apartments bug our standard arena in high and I not going to compromise!


    1. Yours…but the others? And it isn’t just the standards, because I’ve seen complete dives get 5 stars on AirBnB–they are cheap and people feel like they got a good deal for the money anyway. The point is about hosts who pay taxes or not. In France, too often, they don’t pay.

      Liked by 1 person

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