Good news today for online booking platforms and the sharing economy generally, as the European Court of Justice has ruled that Airbnb should be classed as an "information society service" only and not an estate agent - as was being alleged by some European member states.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) made the ruling after deciding that Airbnb is a broad platform of potential accommodation, rather than an ancillary tool to book a specific type of home rental. The decision was based in part on the fact that Airbnb does not attempt to influence what landlords charge for their homes, and that there are many other existing ways for landlords to find tenants.
The decision contrasts with the ECJ's 2017 decision on Uber, where it held that Uber should be treated as a taxi operator and not an intermediary booking platform. However, the conflicting decisions seemed to come down to whether the platforms have a "decisive influence" over pricing and the services being offered on the platform - with Airbnb being found to not have a decisive influence over how much landlords can charge, or over which hosts and accommodation are available on its platform.
The decision means that Airbnb is not subject to the same regulations as estate agents - some of which carried criminal sanctions for breaches.
It's also great news for the sharing and gig economy generally - and provides some much needed clarity over the types of behaviours to avoid when operating an intermediary booking platform.
Airbnb has won a big legal victory with Europe’s top court ruling that it does not need to comply with the onerous regulations applied to property agents in the EU.