Crackdown on holiday renters
On Tuesday, lawmakers demanded action against homeowners who rent out their properties but continue to avoid taxes by not signing up for Airbnb.
During a special meeting, the House Commerce Committee reviewed the issue. As a result of the recent presidential elections, parliament is currently on break and won't meet again until March as usual.
Only about 5,000 of the estimated 15,000 properties have submitted applications to register as self-catering tourist accommodations or Airbnb, according to committee chair Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis.
Because of this, it has been determined to exert pressure while also requesting help from the junior ministry of tourism in order to encourage the remaining 70% to submit an application.
The MP emphasized that "we shall not assist anyone who has not expressed interest in making an application or who wants to operate on their own terms, because competition cannot be distorted but must instead take place in accordance with the law and the market.
"Beds in hotels and beds in Airbnbs are designed for various kinds of travelers. We need to address a long-standing issue because if Airbnb properties operate without paying taxes, it would be against the law.
Two bills were created by lawmakers as an incentive and a stick for unruly Airbnb hosts.
In the first, amenities are provided to property owners so they can register as self-catering tourist accommodations; under the second, such properties would be given an extension to properly register.
According to Hadjiyiannis, incentives will be granted to individuals who have a title document, a municipal planning permit, and, if they are not connected to the grid, are producing electricity from renewable sources.
The committee's special meeting was scheduled since February 7 was the cutoff date for Airbnb hosts to register with the government. Only three MPs were present, therefore there wasn't a quorum, hence the proceedings took the shape of an informal discussion.
Savvas Perdios, the departing deputy minister for tourism, was also present for his final appearance before the legislature.