European Union wants Airbnb to answer consumer complaints, adapt rules

Airbnb app on mobile device

Airbnb app on mobile device

Airbnb's pricing and its distinction between private and professional hosts do not now comply with EU law, particularly the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, so the site's terms of service should be brought into conformity with European law, according to both the commission and EU consumer authorities.

Airbnb said it was looking into the issues brought to its attention by the European Commission.

The EU Commission said Airbnb must also clearly distinguish between offers from a private or professional host, since different consumer protection rules apply.

Věra Jourová, the commissioner for justice and consumers, told reporters in Brussels that the company had until the end of August to show it was reforming its ways or it could expect national regulators across Europe to launch coordinated action.

Should Airbnb fail to abide by the EU's demands by the deadline, national consumer authorities in the EU's 28 member states will be empowered to issue individual fines as they see fit.

Further, the regulator believes that Airbnb's terms of services should be brought into conformity with European consumer law. The Unfair Contract Terms Directive requires that standard terms and conditions do not create a significant imbalance between the parties' rights and obligations, to the detriment of the consumer. "But popularity can not be an excuse for not complying with European Union consumer rules", said Vera Jourova, the European Union consumer affairs commissioner.

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She said there should be fair rules, for example on cancellation of accommodation by the owner. The Commission and the consumer authorities will meet, if needed, with Airbnb in September to solve any outstanding concern.

Finally, the Commission says Airbnb should provide an easily accessible link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform on its website and all the necessary information related to dispute resolution, pursuant to the ODR Regulation.

The EU is pushing Airbnb to alter its terms of service so certain protections are added, such as legal rights that users have to sue a host in case of personal harm.

"If the company's proposals are not considered satisfactory, consumer authorities could decide to resort to enforcement measures", it said.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany's worldwide broadcaster, Airbnb have made a statement on the issue, saying they take this issue seriously and are committed to being as transparent as possible for our community.

"Guests are made aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, prior to confirming their decision to book a listing", it said.

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