C’est tragique. The New York Times reports that Paris plans to enforce a law that bans short-term rentals of residential apartments. The aim is to increase the stock of affordable housing in the City of Light.
Many people, foreigners and the French themselves, buy a pied-à-terre to use for a few days or a few weeks. They rent it out when they're not there. Their renters are visiting professors, scholars and researchers, business people, and tourists such as myself.
Ahhh, I can still bring to mind that enchanting week in the spring of 2005 when my husband and I introduced our four nieces and nephews – all young adults – to our favorite city in the world. We rented a three-bedroom furnished apartment not far from the Pompidou Center. We found it through a realtor recommended by the Monitor's Paris correspondent.
Through a courtyard and up three flights of stairs, the door opened on to parquet floors, tall double windows with lace curtains, and a grand piano in the living room. Every morning we formed an assembly line at the long wooden kitchen table to prepare that day’s picnic lunch: baguette with brie and tomato, accompanied by an orange.
The apartment was the only way to make that vacation affordable. We may not have dined at the nearby restaurants, but we did our bit to support the local economy: the bakery, grocery, and of course, the museums. In one week, we also inspired four future tourists, one of whom now regularly visits Europe.
I’m not for breaking the law, just changing it. How will banning residential rentals of less than a year create more affordable housing? It’s another classic example of French over-regulation.
Subletting actually meets a need for temporary housing, and not just for tourists. In a down economy, it keeps the money coming in.
Apparently, the lack of enforcement of the ban was brought to the fore by a handful of neighbor complaints. But that argues for realtors to do a better job of explaining and enforcing rules of behavior, and for renters to remember that they’re guests in someone else’s home.
Along with liberty, equality, and fraternity, how about flexibility?