Tel Aviv's residents are taking the battle against short-term Airbnb rentals one step forward. Tired of having their complaints to the city go unanswered, 12 residents filed a petition Monday to a Tel Aviv district court against the city and its mayor Ron Huldai.
In the petition, the plaintiffs, represented by Meir Aharoni and Merav Tabib, demanded the court compels the city to require all professional Airbnb operators to get a business license as well as a nonconforming use permit. The plaintiffs also ask that Huldai and the city take legal action against anyone who runs a short-term apartment renting business without these two licenses.
According to the petition, the plaintiffs all own apartments and live in buildings where apartments are being used permanently as short-term rentals. Around 9,600 apartments in Tel Aviv are currently being rented out via Airbnb, the plaintiffs stated, most of them in the city's most central neighborhoods. Though designated as residential spaces, they are being operated as a permanent business without the required permits, inconveniencing city residents and damaging the atmosphere in the neighborhoods, they added.
Among the disturbances the plaintiffs named are noise nuisance in unreasonable hours due to parties; sanitation problems due to short-term tenants throwing trash in common areas, clogging the sewage systems, and causing damage to communal property; and excessive use of alcohol or illegal drugs. Such businesses also negatively affect the valuation of apartments located in the same buildings, they said.
The result is significant damage to the quality of life of permanent residents, the plaintiffs said, made intolerable by how commonplace short-term rentals have become. The plaintiffs further allege that the city is well-aware of the phenomenon but is not taking any action against it.
As a result of the steep increase in the number of apartments being converted into short-term rental businesses and the damage subsequently caused to the quality of life of residents, as well as the prices being driven up in the local real estate market, the city has decided to raise the municipal tax for all such apartments, a city spokesperson told Calcalist. While the city has already approved the new rate for 2019 and 2020, it has yet to be approved by the Minister of Finance and the Ministry of Interior, the spokesperson said, adding that pending approval, the city will work to identify and tax the aforementioned assets accordingly.
As the city has only received the petition Monday, the spokesperson said, it has yet to study the claims, and will respond to them in court.