Amsterdam intensifies investigation into illegal hotels
From this week on teams of officials from the Amsterdam municipality will intensify their investigation into illegal hotels operating in the city.
This follows an investigation which began last November and in which nine out of 200 suspicious properties were closed within the postcode area 1012. In this latest effort the local government will look not only at fire safety issues, which was the previous focus, but also look to pass on information to the tax authorities in order to help combat any potential tax evasion associated with such properties.
Though they claim to be a marketplace and that any compliance with local regulations is the responsibility of the users, the investigation comes at a time when social travelling websites such as Airbnb and Wimdu are facing trouble in other countries with the legality of their business.
In Amsterdam the local authorities see such properties as not only a safety-risk but also as a nuisance to other residents and comes at a time when Project 1012 is taking further strides into cleaning up the city centre.
With almost 4.000 listings on Airbnb alone the website is clearly popular with Amsterdammers who wish to make some extra cash by renting their properties while they are away on holiday.
However, the problem for the government lies with those who are renting their properties year-round without a license to do so.
Though it will prove difficult for the authorities to remove any offending properties from the possession of the owner another issue would be that any tourists found staying in such buildings would immediately find themselves on the street and out of pocket.
Since the announcement was made this past weekend the municipality has found itself on the wrong end of some angry reactions from Airbnb users but Jan-Jaap Eikelboom, spokesman for the central district, has assured users that the investigation's focus will be on uninhabited properties being rented without consent and not on the use of Airbnb in general.