More than 50 Airbnb properties shut down

Summary

Following an inspection effort by tourism agency VisitFlanders, 56 people offering overnight accommodations on Airbnb have been ordered to shut down until they conform with regulations

Fire safety problems

Following a visit from inspectors sent by tourism agency VisitFlanders, 56 people have been ordered to stop renting their properties through Airbnb. According to tourism minister Ben Weyts, the properties do not conform to fire safety regulations for accommodations in Belgium.

Regulations concerning renting temporary accommodations are determined by the regions, and in Flanders those renting through Airbnb must register the property and conform to a number of conditions. The property must be well-maintained, for instance, have a fire safety certificate and insurance and the owner must not have a criminal record. Renters must also pay taxes on income earned.

The injunction against the 56 properties all involved fire safety issues, according to Weyts. They were discovered after VisitFlanders sent inspectors to more than 100 locations across the region that the agency found suspect.

VisitFlanders first tried to work with Airbnb to get information about the renters, but the multinational accommodation platform refused to hand over any information, citing European privacy laws.

“We’ve made it simpler to rent accommodations, and we must also make sure that renters conform to safety requirements,” said Weyts. “If you cannot do that, then you must stop renting. Period.”

It is estimated that there are about 5,000 Airbnb options in Flanders.