Short-term home rental platform Airbnb has until the end of August to present proposals to the European Commission (EC) on its plans to harmonize certain terms and pricing policies with EU consumer legislation.
The deadline was issued by the Commission, which urged Airbnb on Tuesday, to comply to EU consumer rules in efforts to ensure fair play.
“We have asked the accommodation platform to be more transparent on offers, to ensure that users receive adequate information when booking,” said Vera Jourová, European commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, on her twitter account.
“I expect Airbnb to follow up swiftly with the right solutions,” she said.
“More and more consumers book their holiday accommodation online and this sector has brought many new opportunities to holidaymakers. But popularity cannot be an excuse for not complying with EU consumer rules. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules eg on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner,” said Jourová.
According to the EC, a number of Airbnb terms and its pricing presentation do not comply with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Unfair Contract Terms Directive, and the Regulation on the jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters.
Airbnb responded in a statement: “We 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, and we will work together with the authorities to clarify the points raised.”
The proposals to be tabled by Airbnb in August will be reviewed by the Commission and EU consumer authorities in September and if found to be unsatisfactory, the sharing platform could face enforcement measures.
More specifically, the presentation of Airbnb’s pricing, and the distinction between private and professional hosts does not comply with EU law.
Airbnb is being called on:
– to modify the way it presents information on pricing from the initial search on their website in order to ensure that whenever properties are offered the consumer is provided with the total price inclusive of all the applicable mandatory charges and fees,
– clearly identify if the offer is made by a private host or a professional,
– ensure that standard terms and conditions do not create a significant imbalance between the parties’ rights and obligations, to the detriment of the consumer,
– ensure that terms are drafted in plain and intelligible language so that consumers are informed in a clear and understandable manner about their rights,
– provide an easily accessible link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform on its website.