Expat renters pushed out of central Prague by Airbnb

Expat renters pushed out of central Prague by Airbnb

Expat renters pushed out of central Prague by Airbnb

Incoming expatriates are being squeezed out of central Prague accommodation by Airbnb short term bookings.

Life is getting tricky for newly-arrived expat professionals in Prague, as 25 per cent of rental apartments in the Old Town are being rented out to tourists using Airbnb. The reason is obvious – renting via the flat-sharing service can net landlords 100 per cent more than in traditional long term rentals. It’s not only the Old Town location which is becoming out of bounds for longer stay arrivals, as 16 per cent of New Town rentals, 14 per cent in Mla Strana district and 12 per cent in Josefov are also now almost unavailable to expats.

Of all the 27,000 apartments in the five most popular Prague districts, only three per cent have been offered to longer-term renters, with 17.6 per cent now restricted to short-term holiday lets. The reason behind the change is that Airbnb and similar sites are now being used exclusively by professional landlords who’ve bought up multiple apartments in order to let short-term to the over nine million tourists who arrive annually. The tourism footfall total is expected to hit 11.45 million by 2025, meaning long-term rental accommodation will only exist in suburbs a good distance outside the city centre.

For short-term visitors, the main attraction of Airbnb and such sites is that rentals in the main are far less than even budget hotel rooms, with a couple booking a short term flat paying at least 25 per cent less per night. The situation has forced both sale prices and rental costs for apartments to rise, thus also locking out locals wishing to buy or rent. Although the city fathers have pledged an increase in new builds, and housing projects are now receiving significant private investment, the new properties won’t come on the market until 2022 at the earliest.

In an attempt to regulate the issue before it worsens still more, the local government is considering increasing taxes on rental revenue, but chasing down taxes due by owners and landlords using Airbnb isn’t going to be a straightforward operation. Another option is charging short-term visitors a fee on arrival but, given Prague’s geographical location, the only tourists who would be forced to pay are those arriving by air. In the meantime, expats looking for long-stay accommodation will be forced to settle for a long journey to their workplaces.

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