Airbnb May Not Charge Service Fees for Both Tenant and Landlord in The Netherlands
Yesterday the Dutch court ruled a very important decision we like to share with you regarding a lawsuit initiated by a Dutch consumer against Airbnb’s service fees in the Netherlands. You can read the original article on NOS and AT5. (in Dutch only). Please find below an overview of the case in English.
Airbnb is not allowed to charge service fees to both tenants and landlords – a decision was reached by the multiple chamber of the Amsterdam District Court. One customer had brought a case against the company and has won the lawsuit.
The court has decided that Airbnb now has to pay back the service fee costs of bookings made in the past. In this customer’s case it’s just about a few hundred euros, but the ruling could have major financial consequences for Airbnb and create a better level playing field for the consumers of the sharing economy in general. Since the precedent has been set, the Dutch people who have rented through the company in recent years (tenants and landlords) can start asking restitution of their payed service fees.
According to AT5, landlords who offer living space through Airbnb pay 3.6 percent per booking service fees. Tenants also pay service fees: In the Netherlands, they amount to an average of 15 percent of the rent.
“The customer who initiated the lawsuit did not agree to the service fees. They booked seven holiday homes in the Netherlands and abroad between 2016 and 2018. He paid 470 euros in service costs. He demanded that Airbnb pays back that amount, but the company initially refused.
In the lawsuit, Airbnb argued that the services are covered by Irish law because the company is located there. This type of fees construction is allowed according to Airbnb. In addition, the company finds that the Dutch rules on this apply to permanent homes and not for temporary rentals.
The judges do not agree with that. Although Airbnb does indeed fall under the Irish law, the terms for the EEA also state that when the consumers’ country's consumer rights prove more favorable, local law is followed. "That is the case here," the court believes. The Dutch rules on this have been deliberately drafted to protect consumers.
The judges, therefore, consider that Airbnb should reimburse the service costs for the man's seven bookings.
Airbnb announces to appeal the ruling.” writes AT5.
However, NOS explains further the verdict. Airbnb won’t be able to appeal this decision as this customer’s claim value was only €450. One can only appeal if the claim value is at least €2500 and above. Airbnb also insisted not to mediate, because according to them the company only offers a platform where tenants and landlords meet each other. This argument was also rejected by the court judges, because the company “actively intervenes in all aspects of the conclusion of the lease”.