The European Commission and the EU consumer authorities have called on Airbnb to bring its conditions in line with the EU consumer rules and to be transparent when presenting prices.
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 will have until the end of August to present their proposals before the Commission and the EU consumer authorities review the proposed changes. If these are not considered satisfactory, Airbnb could face an enforcement measure.
The EU and relevant authorities have stated that Airbnb should modify the way it presents information on pricing from the initial search on their website in order to ensure that, whenever properties are offered, the consumer is provided with the total price inclusive of all applicable mandatory charges and fees or, when it is not possible to calculate the final price in advance, clearly inform the consumer that additional fees might apply. Moreover, the company has been asked to clearly identify if the offer is made by a private host or a professional, since the consumer protection rules differ.
Furthermore, 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, that the company should not mislead consumers by going to a court in a country different from the one in their Member State of residence, nor can it decide unilaterally and without justification which terms may remain in effect in case of termination of a contract. Similarly, terms of services cannot confer unlimited and discretionary power to Airbnb on the removal of content and the termination or suspension of a contract by Airbnb should be explained to consumers, governed by clear rules and it should not deprive the consumer from the right to adequate compensation or the right to appeal.
Finally, Airbnb’s policy on refunds, compensation and the collection of damage claims should be clearly defined and should not deprive consumers from their right to activate the available legal remedies and the company is asked to 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. Next steps 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.