“A Greek government scheme that grants visas to non-EU citizens in exchange for €250,000 property investments is leading to mass evictions, with renters removed from their homes to make way for AirBnB properties,” UK newspaper Telegraph reports.
“In an echo of the AirBnB ‘epidemic’ in cities such as Barcelona, homes are increasingly being bought and converted into AirBnB properties, primarily by Chinese investors, under the Golden Visa scheme being actively promoted by the Greek government,” the paper continues.
The article mentions a report, without saying where it's coming from, claiming that there are whole neighborhoods in Athens and other Greek cities where AirBnB now amounts to 81 percent to 95 percent of all rented rooms.
The company itself, contacted by the paper, has replied through a spokesperson that “(t)his report is an attempt by a hotel group to protect its profits and smear hosts who spread tourism benefits beyond hotels to local families, business and communities."
Cheap golden visas
The paper says that, in the past two years, the number of AirBnB properties has soared from 9,000 to 129,000 and that, according to unnamed “real estate sources” most of these rentals “come from Golden Visa portfolios.”
“Golden Visas have in the last five years rejuvenated the real estate market in Greece and the government is now planning to expand the programme,” Telegraph says, adding that the visas are the cheapest in the EU (a similar visa in the UK is contingent upon an investment worth 2 million pounds, or 2.28 milion euros).
As a result, Greek “golden visas” are very popular among Chinese, Russian and Turkish citizens, Telegraph says, mentioning the big advertisement at Syntagma tram station.
The paper also mentions examples of individuals and businesses evicted from their rentals by new owners and says that Greek officials have ignored EU warnings to push for more golden visa recipients.