Should you book Airbnb when visiting Amsterdam?
While Airbnb may be a perfect income opportunity for some citizens of Amsterdam, most Amsterdammers would rather see the service banned.
As described below Airbnb is causing many problems in the city — so much so that the Amsterdam City Council has laid down many rules and regulations for those who wish to make their homes available via Airbnb and similar services.
The newly formed city council (May 2018) is even looking for ways to ban Airbnb from certain districts, including the city center.
On this page we explain the problems surrounding Airbnb in Amsterdam, as well as the local rules and regulations (with updates).
Amsterdam Airbnb problems
In recent years Amsterdam has been overwhelmed with an ever growing number of Airbnb tourists.
As in many other places throughout the world the influx of tourists in, primarily, residential areas is causing countless problems.
According to data compiled by InsideAirbnb there are more than 6000 illegal Airbnb apartments in Amsterdam — homes rented out year-round. At least 1300 apartments were listed on the official website as accommodating more than 4 people, which is against the law. More than 4000 hosts had multiple listings, often under fake names.1 These hosts are more than likely running businesses, in violation of short term rental laws.2
- Noise nuisance
Anything from the ‘never-ending’ noise of roller suitcases on cobble stones to loud, alcohol and-or weed fueled impromptu parties. While most Airbnb guests (and those of its competitors, such as Wimdu, and HomeAway) are respectful of their neighbors, too many have an “We’re here today and gone tomorrow” attitude. Also, being woken up by strangers banging their luggage up or the narrow common staircases early in the morning or late at night gets old fast as well.
- Illegal rentals
For instance, vacation rentals are subject to strict rules, This includes a limit on the number of days a residence can be rented out via Airbnb and similar companies. Also, rent-controlled appartments may not be rented out. But these rules are frequently broken. On Twitter and elsewhere researchers show that the same properties are often advertised with different names and other details in a clear effort to circumvent the rules.
- Housing Shortage Exacerbated
Amsterdam already has a shortage of affordable housing. That shortage is made worse by the fact that properties which would normally be sold or rented to people looking for a place to live are now bought by people intent on running what amounts to illegal hotels. Investors make a lot more money from Airbnb customers than from regular renters.
- Changing Neighborhoods
It may sound dramatic, but Airbnb and its clones are changing the very fabric of society — in Amsterdam as elsewhere. Tourists tend to have different wants and needs than locals. They do not usually shop at neighborhood stores. They don’t frequent the cafés, restaurants, markets and theaters that make a neighborhood ‘home’ to its residents. Some areas of Amsterdam are so overrun by short-stay tourists that many locals have noticed things are changing. For instance, many shops that formerly served Amsterdam’s citizens have been converted to fast food outlets preferred by tourists. Granted, Airbnb, Wimbu and other vacation rental platforms are certainly not the only companies to blame for the current overtourism crisis. But they do make a big impact in what used to be only residental neighborhoods.
Amsterdam Airbnb: Rules and Regulations
- The property must be designated as a residential dwelling
- Only the principal inhabitant, who must be a registered citizen of Amsterdam, is allowed to offer vacation rentals
- The home may only be rented out occasionally: for a maximum of 30 days a year
- The home may be rented to a maximum of 4 people at any time
- Rent-controlled property owned by a housing corporation may not be rented out as vacation- or other shortstay accommodation
- Holiday rentals must be reported to the municipality before guests arrive
- The person who rents out the property must pay tourist tax and income tax
- Permission to let your home for short-stay rentals must be obtained from your landlord or Association of Owners (VvE).
- Guests may not cause a nuisance
- The home must be fire safe
- Renting rooms or properties outside your home to tourists is not allowed — e.g. garden houses, tents, or boats.
Amsterdam Airbnb: In the News
- August 4, 2018 — It is official: the maximum length of time Amsterdammers are allowed to rent out their homes via Airbnb and similar services will be cut from 60 days to 30 days starting in 2019.
- Amsterdam is the only capital in Europe in which a night in an Airbnb location is more expensive than a night in a hotel. French statistics bureau Statista reports that on average you’ll pay €11 more [January 2018]
- A newly installed City Council [May 2018] is looking into the possibility of banning Airbnb rentals in certain areas of town, including the city center
What happened earlier
The following section is an archived article.
Updated, Dec. 18, 2014: The City of Amsterdam and Airbnb have reached an agreement that will see the property rental service collecting tourist tax from hosts and remitting it to the city on their behalf.
The agreement will take effect on 1 January 2015, and Airbnb will start collecting tax from February 2015.
Airbnb and the City of Amsterdam have also agreed
- to join forces in tackling illegal hotels,
- to jointly continue developing the service’s Dutch-language help center that provides general information and links to rules that may affect people renting their homes in Amsterdam,
- that Airbnb will prominently display a summary of these rules on their website. Hosts will be required to actively declare that they understand the rules and agree to comply with them before they can post their listing, and
- that the service will send email updates twice a year to remind local hosts of the rules and regulations in Amsterdam.
Popular in Amsterdam
In Amsterdam more than 6000 properties are made available via Airbnb — almost half of the total number of rental opportunities listed for all of the Netherlands.
73% of the properties offered via Airbnb are located outside the Amsterdam neighborhoods where most hotels are situated.
Noteworthy is that, even with an extensive supply, properties in the center of Amsterdam demand high rental rates.
This map, using data collated by OSCity, shows how much money Amsterdammers are asking for rooms, either private or shared, and entire houses or apartments:
Update, Feb. 14, 2014: The City of Amsterdam has approved a new law that allows residents to rent out their privately-owned homes for limited periods of time.
The law, which creates a ‘private vacation rental’3 category, was written with the issues surrounding Airbnb and similar services in mind.
Amsterdam is the first city in the world to pass such a law.
Under the terms of the new law, hosts may rent out their homes up to two months a year, to up to four people at a time.
A home owner who wishes to make his home available as a vacation rental, must be registered as living at that address. The home may not be exploited as a business.
The home-owner will be required to pay all applicable taxes, including income- and tourist tax.
People who rent instead of own their homes may also rent out their residence, but only if they obtain permission from the landlord or housing corporation, and then only if their base rent is more than € € 699,48 a month.
The homes must meet all fire- and safety rules.
If renters act in ways that generate noise- or nuisance complaints from neighbors, authorities may prohibited the owners from further rentals.
People who violate the rules may risk a fine, a bill for back-taxes, or the loss of their home.
Update, Oct. 15, 2013: A judge in Amsterdam has ruled that homeowners who rent out their home for short-stay visitors are illegally exploiting their residence as business.
The ruling can have a large impact Airbnb and similar services for whom Amsterdam is a top destination.
The case was brought before the court by the owner of an apartment in a housing complex. Once of twice a month he allowed tourists to rent for a few nights.
The man’s home owners association ruled that it was illegal for him to rent out his apartment, after which he took legal action.
Amsterdam has some 4500 home owners associations, covering the vast majority of the city’s private homes.
Amsterdam passes world’s first Airbnb-friendly law
Update, Feb. 18, 2013: Airbnb has said it will cooperate with the Municipality of Amsterdam to reject illegal hotels from its website.
Alderman Freek Ossel (Housing) says tells local newspaper Het Parool he is pleased with the outcome of a meeting with Airbnb’s European director and a representative from the organization’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Airbnb will actively work to keep ads for houses that are permanently, or almost permanently, offered as hotels off its website.
A preliminary check by the Housing and Social Support Department shows that 700 of the nearly 3,000 houses advertised for rent on Airbnb are in use as illegal hotels.
Report: “Airbnb could be banned in Amsterdam.” Not True.
DutchAmsterdam.com, Feb. 5, 2013 — Various national and international news outlets recently reported that Amsterdam is on the verge of banning Airbnb — an online marketplace for temporary accommodation in countries around the world.
However, that is not the case.
Amsterdam-based technology website TheNextWeb.com last Saturday posted an item headlined, “Airbnb could be banned in Amsterdam.”
The message was based on a news article published that same day in local daily Het Parool, reporting on the city’s intensifying hunt on illegal hotels, particularly in the center of town.
Het Parool quoted Jan-Jaap Eikelboom, spokesperson for the Amsterdam Centrum borough, as saying that starting next week officials of both the Centrum borough and Dienst Wonen, Zorg en Samenleven (Housing and Social Support Department) will check houses in the center of the city.
The city believes some 2000 houses are in use as illegal hotels, many of which are located in the center district.
Fire Safety Checks
In June 2012, a fire that destroyed a historic building took the lives of two people who were temporarily staying there.
Just a month prior to the fire the company of the building’s owner had received a permit from the Centrum borough to rent out the empty, two-story house until a renovation permit would be issued. However, the event brought renewed focus to the discussion over properties that were illegally used as hotels.
In November and December of last year, officials checked some 200 specific addresses about which neighbors had complained regarding nuiseance such as noise, loitering, or an never-ending stream of different people going entering and leaving.
These homes were evaluated for fire safety, and whenever illegal hotels were discovered they were immediately closed.
Hunt for illegal hotels intensifies
With housing at a premium in Amsterdam, strict rules govern how properties may be used. Using buildings zoned for private apartments as hotels — thus withdrawing them from the residential rental market — is against the law.
Eikelboom told Het Parool that his teams may now check entire streets at once, instead of going to individuals addresses. He said they will also check homes that are being advertised on websites like Airbnb and Wimdu.
Checking for violations of fire safety regulations may seem to be a roundabout way to investigate illegal rentals. Eikelboom acknowledges it’s a simple method, and explains that dealing with such properties is a legally complicated affair.
No ban on Airbnb or similar sites
But the conclusion that a ban is imminent is not correct, Eikelboom told Het Parool yesterday.
“Of course we do not want to prohibit Airbnb,” he says. “On the contrary; that’s a good initiative.”
“Rather, what we hunt for are those people who present themselves as private individuals, but in fact rent out properties that are uninhabited, and thus knowingly violate the law,” he explains.
According to Eikelboom, the marketplace websites will only be used to see whether premises are offered for rent about which there is a suspicion that it concerns an illegal hotel.
Last November alderman Freek Ossel (Housing) told Het Parool, “That you rent out you home for a month while you’re on vacation is not necessarily illegal. But we notice that some home are being rented out quite often during the year.”
As an example he mentioned an apartment that was offered for rent ‘due to vacation.’ But when you clicked on the advertiser’s fictitious name, you see that the ‘landlord’ also has four other apartments on offer.
“In that case you’re not talking about someone who is leaving for a week and wants to earn some extra money,” Ossel said.
Risk of renting an illegal hotel room
The city is still contemplating how to let tourists know that there are risks associated with illegal rentals.
“In our previous enforcement action some tourists found themselves out on the streets,” Eikelboom warns. “They lost their money and had to find other accommodation.”
As of January 1, 2017, anyone who illegally rents his home to tourists — not just those who use Airbnb, will face a maximum fine of 20.500 euro.
In addition to the fine, the city can decide to add a penalty as well. Whenever a penalty is added to the fine, the city will also board up the property for a period of time.
Meanwhile law enforcement officers scour the internet in search of people who advertise their property for rent for more than 60 days a year — the legal limit.4
Airbnb itself has agreed to close the account of anyone rents out his or her home for longer than legally allowed.
Dutch: De Regels
For our locals readers: Dit zijn de regels waaronder u uw woning mag verhuren via Airbnb of soortgelijke bedrijven. [Link leads to Dutch-language information on the city’s official website, detailing the rules and regulations for renting out privately-owned property.
Ondervindt u overlast door vakantieverhuur of shortstay in uw buurt? U kan dit telefonisch melden: 14 020 (ma t/m vrij van 08.00 tot 18.00 uur).
- Keep in mind that many hosts also use multiple websites to advertises their homes and apartments ↩
- Figures from December, 2017. Johan van Heerde, Duizenden huizen in Amsterdam zijn blijvend bezet door toeristen, Trouw, Dec. 27, 2017 ↩
- Dutch: Particuliere Vakantieverhuur ↩
- The officers are skilled at rooting out people who use different accounts on different services in an attempt to circumvent the legal limit. ↩
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