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MPs wrap discussion on Airbnb legislation

People in Cyprus using online platforms to advertise their properties for short-term leases will be required to provide the platforms with a serial number given to them by the deputy ministry for tourism.

Parliament on Tuesday wrapped up discussion of a bill regulating these short-term property rentals.

Tourism minister Savvas Perdios told MPs that after talks with platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com, the latter agreed they would obligate users to enter a serial number – provided by the Cyprus government – before allowing home owners to use their services.

The bill aims to create a dedicated registry for short-term self-catering accommodation, where each property rented will be assigned a number. According to Perdios, that number would then be provided to online platforms, ensuring the property advertised is approved by the Cyprus government.

The platforms also agreed to provide Cypriot authorities with transaction-related information that might help for the purposes of taxation in Cyprus.

However, Perdios said, the online platforms are not able to tax at the source – as the government had wanted – because that would require them making modifications for the some 170 countries they cover.

The bill regulating short-term self-catering accommodation is now expected to be submitted to the plenum.

This is despite the fact there remain a few pending issues where MPs of the House commerce committee were unable to reach consensus – including whether the consent of a building’s tenant committee will be required beforehand when a tenant intends to rent a flat on a short-term basis.

Today there are an estimated 20,000 homes and holiday cottages that are unregulated but leased online.

The stated objective of the bill is to regulate the ‘unchecked’ rental of villas and residences as well as apartments for tourism purposes.

Currently these short-term rentals are unlicensed and thus not subject to the legislation governing tourist lodgings.

Initially MPs had planned to also introduce legislation covering the taxation (income tax and VAT) of short-term rentals.

However, they have since decided to leave the tax aspect to the government.

Perdios described short-term rentals as the ‘future’, adding that once properly regulated it would help tap into niche tourist markets such as France, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Scandinavia.

 

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