Legislative measures to improve the framework for short-term accommodation rentals in Greece are on their way, the Minister of State Responsible for the Coordination of Government Work Akis Skertsos said on Thursday.
The measures are expected to affect big entrepreneurs renting out multiple properties.
Referring to issues that concern the tourism industry, during the Greek Tourism Confederation’s (SETE) annual conference in Athens, Skertsos announced that the government’s proposal for the regulation of short-term rentals, which will include a ‘clear distinction’ between properties rented by private individuals and those leased by entrepreneurs, will be made public in the next period.
As he pointed out, short-term rentals have been an activity that in recent years has provided “significant income to support the Greek family and owners of small properties”.
However, Skertsos said it is necessary to establish specific rules when offering a differentiated tourism product so as to avoid unfair competition at the expense of other businesses.
The Minister of State pointed out that the government is currently working on the relevant framework, with the final decisions are expected to be taken in the near future by the Greek Finance Ministry.
“We will put a stop to the unfair competition at the expense of tourism businesses caused by informal, large-scale, professional short-term rentals. At the same time, a family or individual that rents one or two apartments will not be affected in any way,” Skertsos said, highlighting the risk of the character of cities changing due to the reckless development of the short-term rental market at the expense of the permanent residents of the areas.
“We need to put in place some rules that will highlight and strengthen both the tourist product and the daily life of our citizens,” he added.
Greek hoteliers for some time have been arguing that hotels are facing unfair competition from Airbnb-style rentals in Greece due to “loopholes” in the current short-term rental framework that “allow” investors to buy entire buildings to rent out apartments for the short-term while actually functioning as hotels.
According to a recent Grant Thornton study, currently there are approximately 129,000 short-term rental properties operating in Greece, and listed on websites such as Airbnb, when in 2016 the number was only a little over 57,000.
As the activity was found to account for 15 percent of the total tourism market, Greek hoteliers argue that “a market of that size can no longer be left without a proper regulatory framework”.