The European Commission and EU consumer authorities are calling on Airbnb to align their terms and conditions with EU consumer rules and be transparent on their presentation of prices.
Commissioner Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “More and more consumers book their holiday accommodation online and this sector has brought many new opportunities to holidaymakers. But popularity cannot be an excuse for not complying with EU consumer rules. Consumers must easily understand what for and how much they are expected to pay for the services and have fair rules e.g. on cancellation of the accommodation by the owner. I expect Airbnb to follow up swiftly with the right solutions.”
Airbnb’s current pricing presentation and a number of its terms do not comply with the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Unfair Contract Terms Directive, and the Regulation on the jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters. Therefore the European consumer authorities and the Commission have demanded from Airbnb a number of changes. The company has until the end of August to present their proposals. Once Airbnb proposes solutions to rectify this, the Commission and the EU consumer authorities will review the proposed changes. If they are not considered satisfactory, Airbnb could face an enforcement action.
Price transparency and other unfair commercial practices
The presentation of Airbnb’s pricing, as well as the distinction between private and professional hosts currently does not comply with the requirements of EU law, in particular the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
Clarification of terms or removal of illegal terms
Airbnb’s terms of services should be brought into conformity with European consumer law. The Unfair Contract Terms Directive requires that standard terms and conditions do not create a significant imbalance between the parties’ rights and obligations, to the detriment of the consumer. The Directive also requires that terms are drafted in plain and intelligible language so that consumers are informed in a clear and understandable manner about their rights.
With regards to Airbnb, this means, for example:
Finally, Airbnb should provide an easily accessible link to the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform on its website and all the necessary information related to dispute resolution, pursuant to the ODR Regulation.
Airbnb has now until the end of August to propose detailed solutions on how to bring its conduct in compliance with EU consumer legislation. The Commission and the consumer authorities will meet, if needed, with Airbnb in September to solve any outstanding concern. If the company’s proposals are not considered satisfactory, consumer authorities could decide to resort to enforcement measures.
The EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Regulation links national consumer authorities in a pan-European enforcement network. Based on this framework, a national authority in one EU country can request the assistance of their counterpart in another EU country to stop a cross-border infringement of EU consumer law.
The cooperation can be activated to enforce various bodies of EU consumer legislation, such as for instance the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Consumer Rights Directive or the Unfair Contract Terms Directive.
The Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Network has carried out a joint assessment (common position) of Airbnb business practices under the coordination of the Norwegian Consumer Authority (Forbrukertilsynet) in June 2018. This action has been facilitated by the European Commission.