BUSINESS

Gov’t planning restrictions on owners of short-term rentals

THANOS TSIROS

Properties on islands with less than 10,000 inhabitants, such as Tinos, will soon only be able to be utilized for short-term rentals for 60 days a year.

TAGS: Property, Tourism, Taxation

The government is considering introducing restrictions on the utilization of properties advertised on short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway for holiday accommodation. The restrictions will be imposed on individual owners as well as investors and professional agents who benefit from the new market.

A joint committee made up of officials from the ministries of Economy, Finance, Labor and Tourism will draft the ministerial decision that will determine the maximum number of overnight stays per year per property, a clearly determined number of properties utilized per taxpayer or company, and specific income limits.

The issue of short-term rentals was on the agenda of last week’s cabinet meeting, during which the government decided to set up the above committee due to their huge growth – turnover approached 2 billion euros in 2018 – which has had negative consequences: these include a drop in property availability for long-term rentals, a wave of evictions (so that owners could cash in on the new market), a steep rise in rental rates in certain areas and a decline in turnover at hotel units.

The restrictions are already provided for in the legislation on short-term rentals, but their activation had been left to a joint ministerial decision; however, that has not yet been issued even though the framework has been in place since 2016. The law provides that:

1) No more than two properties can be utilized as short-term rentals by the same tax registration number.

2) No property can be leased out for more than 90 days per calendar year; for islands with a population of less than 10,000 inhabitants, the limit has been set at 60 days.

3) For the limit of 90 days (or 60 days for small islands) to be exceeded, hosts will have to prove that their total rental revenues do not exceed 12,000 euros per annum.

It is not certain that these restrictions will apply to the entire country: The law allows for their enforcement only in the areas where housing has to be protected.

The joint committee will also have to determine the possibility of restrictions on the professional utilization of such rentals, which exceeds 50 percent of all short-term leases.

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