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Amsterdam Using Airbnb Listings To Identify Illegal Hotels

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the couch-not-up-to-code dept.

Government 141

An anonymous reader writes "In a move that might dampen the popularity of Airbnb's site for Amsterdam, the city government is now using the accommodation listing service as a source of tips about illegal rental property. 'Airbnb is never a smoking gun,' said Jan-Jaap Eikelboom, spokesman for the city of Amsterdam, regarding use of the service. But the government does use Airbnb and its competitors to compare its own nuisance data with street listings on sites like Airbnb, and has been doing so for a while, he said. This combined information can come in handy when investigating suspicious buildings and can help with spotting illegal activity, he said."

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141 comments

Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (4, Informative)

nuckfuts (690967) | about a year ago | (#42794465)

I for one have never heard of it.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794467)

There is no hole!

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794659)

There's one at the faggot's rear end.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (3, Funny)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about a year ago | (#42794745)

There's one at the faggot's rear end.

Wait, so straight people don't have one?! :O I guess that must be why so many of them talk so much shit!

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794773)

*burp*

Thanks for that. Anyone else wants to feed a troll, please?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about a year ago | (#42794495)

I for one have never heard of it.

You couldn't infer what it does from the summary, where it says "...using the accommodation listing service..."?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

nuckfuts (690967) | about a year ago | (#42794543)

I didn't say that I couldn't surmise what it's about; I just said I'd never heard of it before. I'm questioning the submitter's assumption that the site is common knowledge.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year ago | (#42794577)

The purpose of airbnb from the summary is far less mystifying than what an "illegal hotel" is, or why that's a serious issue in Amsterdam.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

petman (619526) | about a year ago | (#42794671)

That's not mystifying at all. I would think illegal hotels would be a problem in most countries, not least due to inability of the government to collect taxes on the room rentals.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794755)

In a rare turn for me, I'm going to guess they're more interested in making sure commercial places of accomodation are up to code for numerous health and safety reasons.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (4, Informative)

leuk_he (194174) | about a year ago | (#42794873)

That is exactly what the officail stance is...

Volkskrant (dutch) [volkskrant.nl]

Taxes, fire safety, and illegal rent.
Illegal rent: social rented space that is sub-rented.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

BruceCage (882117) | about a year ago | (#42797213)

Just wanted to point out that the heading for that article ("Amsterdam wants to get rid of Airbnb website") seems misleading. Nothing in the (short) article indicates that the municipality has a problem with Airbnb itself. But then again, misleading headlines are business as usual for such a shoddy paper as the Volkskrant.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42795017)

In a rare turn for me, I'm going to guess they're more interested in making sure commercial places of accomodation are up to code for numerous health and safety reasons.

Stop defending the actions of a government, that's forbidden on slashdot. So-called taxes health and safety laws are just an excuse for Collectivist intervention in the smooth running of the free market, as a way of redistributing money from innocent businesses to undeserving welfare layabouts AT THE POINT OF A GUN.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1, Troll)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42795441)

as a way of redistributing money from innocent businesses

No, that's just a strawman created by left wing ideologues. In fact, what's objectionable about these kinds of so-called "health and safety laws" is that they often serve the interests of big powerful businesses and hurt the interests of most people, by increasing prices, reducing choices, and increasing barriers to entry.

Who do you think has the most to gain from making competition from private rentals illegal in Amsterdam? Condo owners who need to be "protected" from rental revenues and appreciation of their apartments? Local merchants who benefit from more tourism? Obviously not. The idea that private rentals, which exist and work all around the world, are a threat to city residents, or health or safety is ludicrous.

This law is clearly designed to protect big, soul-less, corporate-style hotels (and Amsterdam has a lot of those) against new, cheaper, and better competition. It's quite ironic that you try to defend such corporate welfare as consumer protection against business. But, of course, that's normal for these kinds of laws. The problem with people like you is not that you are "collectivist", is that you let yourself be manipulated for corporate agendas.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#42795641)

No, that's just a strawman created by left wing ideologues. In fact, what's objectionable about these kinds of so-called "health and safety laws" is that

We've really gotten to the point where food inspectors are part of the world collectivist left-wing conspiracy?

Too much AM radio.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (3, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42795847)

We've really gotten to the point where food inspectors are part of the world collectivist left-wing conspiracy?

No, we merely have gotten to the point where people like you kill any political discussion by setting up one strawman after another.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#42796417)

Did you read the OP's comment?

No, that's just a strawman created by left wing ideologues. In fact, what's objectionable about these kinds of so-called "health and safety laws" is that they often serve the interests of big powerful businesses and hurt the interests of most people, by increasing prices, reducing choices, and increasing barriers to entry.

That generic "regulation is stifling competition" claptrap ignores why we regulate.
The argument applies equally to food safety as it does to building codes and it isn't a compelling argument in any case.

Higher prices, higher barriers to entry, and less choice are the price we pay for a safer life.
Otherwise, we can go back to the good old days when rivers caught on fire,
entire blocks of buildings burned down because of a stray candle,
and horse meat was a large component of beef products.
Oh wait, we're still working on that last one.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#42797441)

How on earth is someone renting out their condo a danger in regards to building code? It's not like they built the condo themselves without following buildling codes. The condo was built by builders who got the proper permits and followed building codes. Then someone bought the condo, and decided to rent it out. So what exactly is the regulation needed for?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42797439)

No, that's just a strawman created by left wing ideologues. In fact, what's objectionable about these kinds of so-called "health and safety laws" is that

We've really gotten to the point where food inspectors are part of the world collectivist left-wing conspiracy?

Too much AM radio.

Shut up, he argued.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

azalin (67640) | about a year ago | (#42795495)

In that countries other things are smoking far more often and more legal than guns. Hey I got a business idea: What about a dutch coffee chain called "Spacebucks"?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (3, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#42795001)

In short,
There is a huge shortage in affordable housing in Amsterdam and there is very little space to remedy this. Add to this that about 10% is owned as speculation objects by criminals with no tenants. Having unlicensed hotels and hostels on top of the 100 or so licensed hotels in these residential areas are a huge burden on the city and its inhabitants and also unfair competition to the businesses that do play by the rules.
Only last year there was a deadly shootout in an unlicensed hotel at the end of my street. If you are a US citizen that is probably a daily occurrence for you, but here in Amsterdam it is kind of a big deal.

 

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#42795311)

I suppose when they finally find a solution and buildings stand empty from high priced rent, the same buildings will be squatted by the same people who used to pay rent and have paying "friends" stay with them. Bravo, another government brainstorm.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42795475)

If you are a US citizen that is probably a daily occurrence for you, but here in Amsterdam it is kind of a big deal.

I wonder whether it's the fact that they keep getting their bicycles stolen that makes the Dutch so rude and arrogant.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42797501)

I wonder whether it's the fact that they keep getting their bicycles stolen that makes the Dutch so rude and arrogant.

I'm Canadian, I've lived in both the Netherlands (Amsterdam) and in US (East and West coast), plus a couple of other countries in Europe. The Dutch as a group are by far the nicest, most easy-going and fun-loving people of the bunch. Americans are nice and polite on the surface, but they're doing themselves absolutely no service with their arrogance and especially their post-911 xenophobia.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42795563)

Well I for one don't see how justice is served by criminalizing speculation, or did you mean to imply that these speculators were criminals because of their having broken other unrelated laws?

If I want to purchase properties and let them sit empty its should be nobodies damn business but my own.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796205)

Vacant properties reduce the value of nearby properties, so when you purchase property and let them sit empty you are causing measurable economic damage to your neighbors. Of course that's "their business".

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795871)

If you are a US citizen that is probably a daily occurrence for you, but here in Amsterdam it is kind of a big deal.

I'm sure Amsterdam is otherwise perfect.

"There's only two things I hate in this world. People who are intolerant of other people's cultures and the Dutch." -- Nigel Powers "Austin Powers in Goldmember"

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#42796167)

Rent control leads to shortage, news at 11.

I moved to the Netherlands for a contract 20 years ago. They had a 4-waiting list for apartments. Fortunately they had some set aside at higher price just for people like me who couldn't wait (or afford a hotel for a year and a half, note effectively a higher rent too).

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796297)

The U.S. is very large in comparison and unless you live in a major city, you probably only see those shoot outs at the movies. There has not been a shoot out in the mid-western U.S. town I live within the last century that I'm aware of.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year ago | (#42795293)

When we figure that it is foreign travelers bringing revenues to the country, the legislators that concocted this bullshit fail to recognize that the country profits from it anyway. No hotel, fewer travelers, less money. Must've used the U.S. government as a consultation on that piece of legislation. I don't know how you could get much stupider. Is it seriously a prerequisite of government office to have an I.Q. a bit lower than a cockroach?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796533)

We don't pray to the almighty € as you folks do to your $. We have other metrics than $.
Like we like to allow local citizens to be able to stay in the city and afford quality houses for reasonable prices. If that makes it a little less comfortable for the tourists and brings in less money, that's a negligible downside.
Also, we don't just solve this with ugly big skyscrapers because that would violate the character and spirit of the city. (Which is one of those things that actually attracts tourists).

You probably should also note the difference between European and U.S. cities.
European cities grew organicly over many centuries (Amsterdam ~1200 that the name comes up) from towns into cities around trade centers/churches/rivers/...
US cities were built as cities from the start.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | about a year ago | (#42797653)

It seems like the government needs to take a more active approach and promote more building underground so there isn't such a shortage of living space.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Vintermann (400722) | about a year ago | (#42794719)

Considering Amsterdam is (justly or unjustly) famous for prostitution and drugs, I can think of some reasons why illegal hotels would be a particular problem there - apart from the obvious one of operating a business hidden from the tax authorities.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

jrumney (197329) | about a year ago | (#42794805)

The purpose of airbnb from the summary is far less mystifying than what an "illegal hotel" is

My suspicion is that "hotel" in Amsterdam has the same relation to normal English usage as "coffee shop" does. Probably whatever a "legal hotel" is in Amsterdam would be illegal in most of the rest of the world.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794863)

It's really not rocket science. An "illegal hotel" is (of course) an unlicensed hotel.

The reasons these are of concern is primarily safety. These kind of illegal hotels often violate basic fire safety rules, and are death-traps in case of a fire. Remember that most buildings in the inner city of Amsterdam are old (2-3 centuries old is not exceptional). If you cram dozens of people in such buildings without basic fire safety precautions and safety exits, that's a recipe for disaster. Indeed, people have died in fires in illegal hotels over the past years.

In addition, these locations are crime magnets.

So, is it so odd that the Amsterdam municipality wants to get rid of them? Me thinks not.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795083)

It's really not rocket science. An "illegal hotel" is (of course) an unlicensed hotel.

The reasons these are of concern is primarily safety. These kind of illegal hotels often violate basic fire safety rules, and are death-traps in case of a fire.

I'm curious what these buildings that people are living (illegal) in were supposed to be used for if they violate safety codes?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42795593)

A building can be safe for small numbers of people but unsafe for larger numbers. A single narrow winding staircase might be fine for evacuating two people, but be a problem for 10. This is why hotels, private homes, and houses rented for multiple occupancy all have different rules.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795151)

so these "death traps" are fine for people to live in permanently (after all, the owners are paying taxes) but god forbid someone spends a couple nights in one (without paying taxes) because THEY COULD DIE!

no, this is entirely about taxes.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42795435)

The attitude displayed in the parent post is why I'd much rather live in Amsterdam than Huston.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796929)

The attitude displayed by you in your post shows why Huston agrees that you should live in Amsterdam.

P.S. Enjoy the mold that grows on and in everything in the country.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Dasuraga (1147871) | about a year ago | (#42794869)

in all honesty that assumption is made in so many summaries. I often hear people talking about airbnb, but that's probably more from techcrunch-type sites than slashdot.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794503)

LMGTFY [lmgtfy.com]

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (4, Informative)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about a year ago | (#42794581)

The submitter could have done that just as easily and saved hundreds of people the effort.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | about a year ago | (#42794631)

I for one have never heard of it.

Right, hence this 'story'. Now you've heard of it.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Bronster (13157) | about a year ago | (#42794837)

You know what, I've never used it. I've never even visited their site - but I've heard of airbnb.

It's kind of the best known service in its "class".

Your question would be similar to "Are we all supposed to know what Netflix is?". In theory you may have not heard of it if you've been under a rock for the last N years (I've never used Netflix either).

But hey - they've been mentioned on slashdot before... so yeah, I guess you are expected to have heard of them. I certainly remember reading http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/07/31/0013236/sfpd-arrests-suspect-in-airbnb-rental-trashing [slashdot.org] when it happened.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#42796851)

Your question would be similar to "Are we all supposed to know what Netflix is?". In theory you may have not heard of it if you've been under a rock for the last N years (I've never used Netflix either).

And yet newspapers and TV stations still find ways to, subtly, remind you that Barack Obama is the President of the United States, for example. It's the done journalistic thing. Instead of "Netflix has announced..." you get "Netflix, the popular online movie rental service, has announced..." Those few who needed informing are now so informed, and those who already were don't notice because it's journalistic convention.

In this case, I think a little more context as to what makes Airbnb so notorious as far as the authorities are concerned might have been useful. Is it organised owners of illegal hotels touting for business on there, or is it (like that quasi-taxi service that the taxi drivers have been complaining about in the US recently) just a few private citizens making a bit of cash on the side while doing their fellow humans a favour?

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794843)

You could google it before annoucing your ignorance to the world.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795009)

Who the hell modded his comment off topic? Stupid fucking troglodyte mods. Asking what Airbnb the subject of the post is, and it gets modded offtopic? I've never heard of this shit either. Good question. Fuck you mods.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42795585)

You appear to be confessing your comprehension skills are below that of a "stupid fucking troglodyte".
First sentence - "In a move that might dampen the popularity of Airbnb's site for Amsterdam, the city government is now using the accommodation listing service"
As for the mod, "redundant" would be more appropriate.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

Martin S. (98249) | about a year ago | (#42795245)

-1 Offtopic is a bit harsh. I also have absolutely no idea who Airbnb are either and the whole topic looks like link farming non-story to me.

Re:Are we all supposed to know what Airbnb is? (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year ago | (#42795863)

Yes, because proper summary with definitions, used everywhere else in journalism, is not used on /. If you don't already know what it means, you're either an uninformed moron who has no business even reading /. or you're too lazy to google it. Prepare to be flogged and voted down.

"air matress bed and breakfast" (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#42797009)

Short term rentals of private property. Can be anything from a couch or air matress to bedroom to full housing unit.

It was of the Y-Combinator's business incubators most successful startups.

This is the new norm. (1)

zippo01 (688802) | about a year ago | (#42794487)

Governments want information. On its own people, on others. Information from places like this is often free and requires no formal request to use or get. Which makes it a win win. This type of thing is only going to get more prevalent. Soon, if not already, massive systems will filter all this data and track everyone, off nothing but open, public and free information. Add that to what they are able to obtain from private companies such as Facebook and twitter etc. It is scary how much governments, not even your own know or can know about you or a place.

Re:This is the new norm. (2)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#42794627)

And why do you specifically mention governments? Business also wants information. If I'm going to the store of a certain coffee seller for new capsules, they ask me lots of questions about the type of coffee machine, its location, the variants of coffee I prefer, how many people are using the machine etc.pp. Departement stores often ask me for my ZIP at the cashier. Online shops always want to know where I first heard of them. None of those information is necessary to proceed with the sale. I still get asked.
As far as I know, hotels have strict rules what they have to report about their guests to the police (e.g. country of origin, home address and passport number), and thus the city of Amsterdam wants to know who has to report. If an acommodation service with publicly available information helps them to improve on their internal data, they will do it.

Re:This is the new norm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794727)

Business also wants information. If I'm going to the store of a certain coffee seller for new capsules, they ask me lots of questions about the type of coffee machine, its location, the variants of coffee I prefer, how many people are using the machine etc.pp.

That alone would be reason enough for me to never buy there.

Trust Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795651)

It's because he's probably American, they foolishly trust businesses over their own government. Northern Europeans typically have greater faith in their own government than a business.

Re:This is the new norm. (-1, Offtopic)

Rosesya Qeela (2833341) | about a year ago | (#42795027)

Massive systems will really give acurate data.Because its very difficult to find illegal activity, Hope Airbnb will help.... http://x.co/sfEV [x.co]

Re:This is the new norm. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#42795611)

Why do spammers all have Google Plus or Twitter icons next to their names now? If Slashdot can identify them, why not provide a mechanism for filtering them out, rather than just highlighting them?

Re:This is the new norm. (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year ago | (#42795061)

Gosh, evil governments use information freely given to them by retards over the internet to help catch moronic criminals. The horror.

Re:This is the new norm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795257)

I see a big difference between goverments using public data on public web sites and forcing companies to hand over private data.

advertisment on my /. (2)

someones (2687911) | about a year ago | (#42794607)

thats news to me.

Re:advertisment on my /. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794859)

thats news to me.

My stays with airbnb have helped me read slashdot more efficiently. airbnb always offered a superior experience to sleeping on the streets and the young backpackers in the hostels had sex more frequently than they showered. YMMV

Please consider airbnb for all your future slashdot travelling needs. Did I mention that airbnb is here on slashdot? airbnb is where you want to go.

Amsterdam is motivated due to safety concerns (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794679)

Amsterdam needs to regulate hotels due to serious safety concerns. You know, checking for fire code regulations, that kind of thing. If the city doesn't do it, then people just 'trust' the people running the place to ensure its safety. Last year at least two people died, and Amsterdam is serious.

http://www.at5.nl/artikelen/82520/uitslaande-brand-nieuwezijds-voorburgwal [at5.nl]

Few were surprised to later learn that building was being used as an illegal, unregulated hotel.

If anyone can rent their 'whatever' via airbnb, then such an unregulated and dangerous market would flourish.

Re:Amsterdam is motivated due to safety concerns (0)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#42796021)

Two people died in an illegal, unregulated hotel last year?!!?

Oh the horror of it all!!

Note that if my home, which is NOT an illegal, unregulated hotel were to catch fire, as many as THREE people might die...

I fail to see the tragedy of two deaths in "an illegal, unregistered hotel", though I can certainly see the loss of tax revenue from same as being of more pressing concern to some....

Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794797)

Three years ago I set up a group trip to Amsterdam. Two weeks, 16 people, everything paid for up-front (food, transportation, accommodations). When I take groups on trips to large cities, I choose apartments because you get to live amongst the locals instead of being in a hotel where you get 'American-style service and amenities' (I can get that in America, thank you very much). I took a special trip ahead to set everything up and check everything out. Seven luxury apartments all in the historical center, all beautiful... everything checked out to my liking. I rented from three different agencies (web-based), all of which I visited in-person on my scouting trip and everything seemed legit.

When we arrived four months later, I was warned by our drivers that he needed help to sneak the luggage into each apartment so nobody might see us. Turns out, it's illegal to rent apartments in the city of Amsterdam. Foreigners (and even locals) had been buying up properties at a rapid rate and then renting them out to tourists for huge profits. After signing away over US $70k for the accommodations, I found out we were all breaking the law, and worse, if we were found out we would all be kicked out immediately with no refunds. I have arranged many trips like this to different countries, and I was completely blind-sided.

Thankfully nobody was vacated from their apartment, but I must say it added a great deal of stress to the trip!

In a city where there isn't enough property to go around for the locals, having the city converted into makeshift hotels and apartment rentals creates a problem for the local population. Prices soar as the supply dries up and people are forced to move outside the city center and commute when (by design) they shouldn't have to.

It also kills the flavor of the community. Anyone who has ever spent any time in Prague can attest to this. Almost no locals live in the heart of the city - everything has been converted to hotels and vacation rentals. I talked to dozens of Czechs in the two weeks I was there and only two of them lived in the city. To get a feel for the local people you have to leave the heart of the city (beautiful but total tourist trap).

So I can see why Amsterdam has taken these measures, I just wish they were communicating it better to travelers.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42794939)

You didn't mention the faggots. Faggots are a real problem in Amsterdam.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795037)

You didn't mention the faggots. Faggots are a real problem in Amsterdam.

Thanks I was thinking it would be cool place to go and smoke some weed. If it's filled with faggots, I'll just stay here and smoke some of this Alabama Kush. Fuck you fags!

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (1)

Jaden42 (466735) | about a year ago | (#42795295)

Yes that is true but don't worry. Your kind usually go back to their home country at the end of your trip.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year ago | (#42795019)

70k for 16 people for 2 weeks = 300USD/day/person (roughly €250/person/day). That's a horrible price and as a European I can't believe that any rational person could be suckered into paying that much ... lol.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795187)

That's a horrible price

$300 isn't unreasonable in certain parts of the US for higher-end accommodations. So I'm not surprised people would be willing to pay that, especially if they're not super-familiar with the destination city and economy.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (2)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year ago | (#42795319)

most places will negotiate a longer rate at a hotel. Booking/paying for 2 weeks for 16 people, would usually facilitate a 25-40% discount. You do understand that €50k for two weeks of stay is pretty ridiculous. In Germany, you could rent a castle for that much for two weeks for 16 people. Or a monastery that still brews beer.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795231)

We get it, cheap shit. Get me a espresso.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (2)

acidfast7 (551610) | about a year ago | (#42795031)

Also, you must not plan a lot of these trips. These laws are extremely common in many European cities. For example, take Stockholm, where the second-hand rental black market is huge. Thankfully, most websites work with SMS/cell numbers so you can't get the property address without communicating with directly the "owner." One can sort by area of the city, but one can't get the address from the webpage directly (pictures are available but no identifying marks.) Why can't the Dutch figure this small detail out?

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#42795291)

if it's so good business renting them, you'd think they'd accommodate for it and just tax it accordingly.

and maybe they shouldn't have the offices in there either, rent them too to tourists. supply and demand and all that. the tourists are bringing in money to the region after all from outside the region.. you don't like 'em? raise pricing to a ridiculous profit sweet spot.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795325)

Well maybe they do tax it accordingly, and that's why everyone is doing it illegally (to avoid the taxes).

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#42795417)

if it's so good business renting them, you'd think they'd accommodate for it and just tax it accordingly.

Normally I'd agree with the free market approach. But having visited Amsterdam, I can see why they wouldn't want to accommodate it. Pretty much the entire city can be traversed by walking/biking (there are a *lot* of bikes there). If they want to keep it that way and slow the growth of the city, then they want to maximize utilization of the buildings that are there.

Tourists rental apartments which sit empty half the time waste space, and drive up prices for residents by adding tourists to the demand side of the equation. I can see the city's logic here. Divide the real estate economy into two separate groups - residents and tourists. Confine the tourists to hotels so the market prices for tourists' housing expenses are decoupled from the market prices for residents' housing expenses. That way as more or fewer tourists visit, the price for hotel rooms will rise or fall. But they won't affect the price of residential apartments in the city.

The market approach solves the higher housing prices by sprawling the city outward, expanding its size. Real estate on the periphery has (initially) lower prices, thus encouraging people to move outwards rather than stay in the center. But much of the charm of Amsterdam is in how accessible the entire city is by foot or bike, and the lack of skyscrapers. If the city wants to preserve that, then segregating tourist housing from residential housing makes sense.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (1)

olau (314197) | about a year ago | (#42796171)

Great comment.

Also keep in mind that what is once built, tends to stay up for a long period. So shortsightedness in city planning can have long-lasting consequences.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year ago | (#42795629)

So let me understand. Your argument is that rents go up in a desirable location and that is some how a problem? I just don't see it. The property owners many of whom probably worked very hard to get where they are certainly gain from the appreciation and deserve to do so. The argument about the locals not being able to live in their own city is just silly.

If they have to commute wages will go up because employers will have to cover the cost of commuting or they won't be able to hire qualified, let alone quality workers. The place will either become a less desirable tourist destination as a result and property will depreciate until locals can afford to move back in; or wages will continue to rise and people will move back to the city. Either way a new equilibrium will be reached.

The entire thing just smacks of an entitlement problem. "Sob sob, I can't afford to live in the neighborhood I want to with my part time job serving coffee." So what..

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796145)

Yes, and the (democratically elected) city government has a vested interest in the city not becoming a "less desirable destination", as you so euphemistically put it, even if that means they don't do exactly what the landlord class thinks is in their personal best interest.

But there's that entitlement thing again. "Sob sob, not all public policy is designed to maximize the money I get from my rent-seeking behavior", so what.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (4, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | about a year ago | (#42796783)

After signing away over US $70k for the accommodations, I found out we were all breaking the law, and worse, if we were found out we would all be kicked out immediately with no refunds.

If you're going to play travel agent, knowing the local laws is usually a first step.

Re:Don't rent vacation rentals in Amsterdam! (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about a year ago | (#42797747)

I understand where you are coming from, but signing over $70,000 in a lump sum prior to services being rendered is a pretty big risk to take.

I'm having heartburn over putting down $20,000 as a deposit held in escrow for a house I plan to buy. (deposit for closing, not downpayment). I couldn't imagine the nervousness I'd feel about putting that kind of cash on the line upfront...

(Post writing note: I just reread your comment and saw that the $70k included food and transportation as well and not just rent. Originally I thought it was just for renting and thought you were out of your mind, the number is a lot more reasonable (to me) now.)

Did you pay in cash (check)? With a transaction that large, I'd really be worried if it didn't go through a credit card for at least some modest protection if the services weren't provided.

The Horror! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795193)

You what?!! Want to do something with your own property WITHOUT government approval!!!

Re:The Horror! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795543)

You what?!! Want to do something with your own property WITHOUT government approval!!!

The majority of Dutch people live in government regulated housing and pay tiny amounts of rent. This kind of housing reduces the amount available to the free market and pushes free market prices sky high. It's very tempting for people in regulated housing to sub let it ( which is illegal ) and make massive profits doing so. It's not unusual for someone to pay 200 Euros a month on rent and sub let for 1200 Euros a month.

Anyone building a new residential building in the Netherlands is obliged by law to give a percentage of it up to government regulated housing which pushes the prices for the non-government regulated part of that building up too.

The Netherlands is messed up in ways American's could not dream of.

Re:The Horror! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796835)

"The majority of Dutch people live in government regulated housing"?! This is yet another sweeping statement devoid of factual information. Is there a lot of government regulated housing? Yes. Is it abused by subletting for WAY over the rent being paid? Yes. But the majority of people are living in government regulated housing? Wake up, man.

There is a general feeling that the government "owes" you something, but that appears to be with the "have-nots". Housing, holiday allowances, etc. The sense of entitlement here is amazing. It is time for a change - work for it or don't get it. This goes for housing, etc.

I bought my house in the centre (of Amsterdam). I chose the neighborhood for lots of reasons, and I pay for it, sometimes at the detriment of lots of other things I want (NOTE: not things I am "entitled too"). People the world over live where they can afford. That is how it works.

Ignorance Level: American "Free Market" fool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795625)

You what? Want to do something without a business license, in conflict with zoning laws and the fire code, WITHOUT government approval!!!

When it's run like a hotel, not a rental apartment, it's the city's business. You ignorant twat!

Air BnB should charge -big- for each such misusage (1)

ivi (126837) | about a year ago | (#42795463)

Fine the B*ast*ards!

1. Change the Terms & Conditions of Use to List VERY HIGH use charges
        for non-individual users, such as City of Amsterdam;
2. Track URL's of non-individual (eg, City of A..., etc.) users;
3. Collect stated fees!

If corporate or gov't users of Air BnB's web site can -save- big,
they can afford to -pay- big, for the privilege.

(Air BnB can even make the service Free for -others-
by charging & collecting huge fees from City of Amst.
etc.)

Of course, all users need to be made well aware, that
their addresses could be tracked by City users, et al.

Those with nil to hide can continue as they do,
without worry. The others can find other ways
to advertise their services.

Q.E.D.

Well D'oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42795561)

I would do the same thing if I were a municipality wanting to crack down on illegal hotels - you get a nicely organized publicly available list of illegal hotels (that's what they are to dutch law without a permit). The municipality wants to keep housing semi-available in Amsterdam (i.e. rent controlled apartments used to live in, not sublet to others) [1], hotels safe [2], probably collect taxes (amongst others our 'tourist tax'). If somebody is in social housing and rents out an apartment like this they might stand to lose the right to live there (this is after all abusing a public resource, and there are plenty of people that need/want housing). As someone living in the historical center of Amsterdam the last thing you need is stag / hen parties going on at your neighbors house all the time - so the cracking down on that stuff is no problem in my book!

Great business plan of air-bnb, collect arbitrage fees from illegal behavior whilst not assuming risks themselves :)

[1] http://www.iamsterdam.com/en-GB/living/housing/housing-policy
[2] This 'hotel' fire that killed 2 people last year is probably an extra reason why the Amsterdam municipality is cracking down on illegal hotels: http://www.at5.nl/artikelen/82704/centrum-verdubbelt-toezicht-op-illegale-hotels (in dutch).

A different kind of amenities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796105)

When the legal hotels allow smoking in the rooms and supply bongs, then the demand for so-called illegal hotels will diminish. My apartment rentals in the Dam have all been selected for herb enjoyment and have worked out well.

Re:A different kind of amenities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42797185)

Yeah I have to say I've been twice, Once with a private flat on onside of the city and then at a hotel on the other side.

While the wife and I liked the free bar downstairs & snacks / breakfast offered at the hotel, the whole place was non-smoking as opposed to the flat we rented with a bakery and grocery less then a block away where we made our breakfasts, & some dinners, and never had to worry about housekeeping busting in and giving us problems.

Compare to freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796283)

Oh, so people sometimes fail to see the importance of words. "Illegally rented property". Given that you own property, that is to say, property that is owned by person x, it would be illegal to rent said property to whomever you want?

I see freedom must be dead in some parts of the world.

Re:Compare to freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42796397)

If I own a car, that is to say, property that is owned by me, it would be illegal to drive said car on whatever side of the road that I want? Clearly freedum is dead, etc.

NYC has been doing this for years (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#42796965)

You basically need a hotel license for rentals of less than 30 days. Most often its neighbors turning in neighbors due to the congestion of increased traffic. But there was NY Time stories of people getting busted for advertising on airbnb and craigslist. Its grounds for a losing a lease, which is hard to find in NYC.

Why use airbnb? Seems risky & expensive... (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#42797253)

Just spent the weekend in Amsterdam with my wife.
Found a great hotel, with good prices, via the web. (Tripadvisor, which I find to be a good resource).
Everything was safe, clean, good breakfast etc.

Out of curiosity, I just checked airbnb for both AMS and my home tome.

The deals did not look good compared to genuine hotels.

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