Airbnb has received a claim of 300 million euros from Servicekostenterug.nl because of service costs that were incorrectly charged. The claims company filed the claim on behalf of tens of thousands of tenants.
Airbnb charged service costs twice for an overnight stay: to the tenant and the landlord. Under Dutch law it is prohibited to collect a fee for real estate brokerage on both sides.
On March 9, the Amsterdam court ruled that the double charging of service costs is contrary to Dutch law. That judgment gave rise to the collective claim.
The lawyer of the claims company, Adriaan de Gier, thinks there is a good chance that the landlord platform will have to pay. According to him, Airbnb’s defense is based on two arguments: “First, Airbnb says that they are a travel organization – they have recently started calling their customers travelers. But they are in fact just a broker for rental, because they have nothing to do with the The customer’s journey. Secondly, they say that it is a holiday residence, so they can charge service costs on both sides. The ruling of the Supreme Court on Friday shows something different. “
De Gier is referring to a ruling by the Supreme Court in another court case in which Airbnb played a role. A couple went to court in 2015 because they did not agree that they should include the rental income from their garden house – which they had rented for 21 days through Airbnb – in their tax return under ‘income from work and home’ in box 1. The couple believed that the temporary rental was not part of box 1. The tax in that box is much higher.
Both initially and on appeal, the couple was proved right. But the tax authorities appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the tax authorities. With the ruling, the Tax and Customs Administration hopes to have a stronger case to tax Airbnb rental of, for example, parts of houses. De Gier is of the opinion that with this ruling the Supreme Court is of the opinion that parties such as Airbnb are indeed real estate agents and therefore fall under the regulation that they cannot charge double service costs.
Airbnb says in a response that it concerns two different cases that are linked by commercial claim organizations. “The basis of the case about service charges goes against Dutch and European laws and we are waiting for the Supreme Court to provide clarity for guests in the Netherlands.”
The rental site says it has not received a claim of 300 million euros over service costs from Servicekostenterug.nl or another claim organization. In addition, all pending proceedings in similar cases have been suspended in several courts pending a decision from the Supreme Court, which is expected in the course of next year, Airbnb said in the response.
The recent ruling of the Supreme Court, on taxing income from rental via a platform, does not state anything about Airbnb services in relation to Dutch law, the landlord platform adds.