The Israel Hotels Association is continuing its fight against short-term apartment rentals to tourists. In a letter sent Thursday by Israel Hotels Association CEO Noaz Bar-Nir to Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant and Ministry of Finance Budget Department director Amir Levi, the association head demanded that the government should formulate a clear policy on short-term apartment rentals to tourists (mainly through Airbnb).
“There are as many as 20,000 apartments rented to tourists today in Israel - and that number is growing. In 2012, there were only 900 such apartments,” wrote Bar-Nir in the letter. “When will you understand that this phenomenon is growing in Israel, that it is shrinking the available supply of housing, and thus hurting your plan to increase the supply, while also driving up prices? And how much revenue is lost to the economy because all of this is takes place in the shadow economy?”
Bar-Nir's letter follows the decision of the Berlin municipality to ban short-term rentals of vacation apartments, after rents in the German capital jumped 56%. The fine for breaking the law is €100,000.
Bar-Nir claimed in the letter the matter was not being properly addressed because of a conflict of interest for chairman of the housing cabinet Avigdor Yitzhaki.
In a legal opinion filed by the Israel Hotels Association in 2013 with the Tel Aviv municipality - through hotel specialist Adv. Carmit Bar-On from the Yehuda Raveh firm - the association said the apartment rental phenomenon encouraged the “shadow economy”, which is in violation of construction, business, and tax laws, and discriminates between small and large businesses in the city. The opinion also claimed the municipality was not making any effort to enforce the laws.
“The Tel Aviv municipality is well aware of the activities of web portals through which apartments are rented to tourists, but it has taken no action to enforce the law on those renting their apartments,” wrote Bar-On. “The trend of renting apartments to tourists and visitors has become a widespread phenomenon in Tel Aviv and its surroundings.” She stressed that in the year before the opinion was submitted, the number of stays booked through these sites jumped 400%.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 8, 2016
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