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CTO taking action over Airbnb

With the number of Cyprus Airbnb listings rising rapidly, the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is planning to introduce a number of measures to curb the problems associated with the online service, starting with a meeting with various stakeholders next Tuesday.

The CTO, the finance ministry, the hotels association and travel agents will take part in the meeting, during which the practices of other countries will be examined to determine what is likely to work in Cyprus.

Head of the hotel sector of the CTO Marios Chanakas said the number of homes rented this way is now in the thousands, with the main problem for the state being that they are not getting paid any taxes.

“Some countries have established practices such as having a one way platform where fees and taxes due are paid directly to the government, thereby securing taxation,” the CTO employee said.

“Others have set a limit to 100 or 200 days per year, and in other countries only physical persons, not by companies, are allowed to rent out accommodation. Or there is a maximum property, each person can only offer one or two properties for rent.”

Another problem is that nobody checks if the properties rented are safe. Currently, all properties used to accommodate tourists should be declared as such by planning authorities, and must secure a licence in advance by meeting strict criteria. This covers all of the different categories, including traditional houses, apartments, villas and hotels. However, most owners renting out properties privately in Cyprus do not adhere to this, the hotel association said.

Unlicensed properties in Cyprus can only be utilised for domestic use and not tourist use.

“Strictly speaking it is not allowed to rent individual property for commercial purposes for less than 30 days,” head of the Cyprus Hotel Association Zacharias Ioannides said. “It is not fair competition.”

“However, the distinction between residential and tourist use is not clear and the documentation of the disposal of the dwelling for tourist use is quite difficult, so the control and supervision of such accommodation is particularly difficult or impossible,” the CTO stated.

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