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The historic Italian city of Florence has banned platforms such as Airbnb from its historic city center in an effort to create more housing for locals after “disappointing” efforts to regulate short-term residential leasing.
“The 40,000 Florentines who live in the center are complaining about finding themselves, all of a sudden, living in apartment hotels,” Mayor Dario Nardella said of the situation.
“In 2016, we had just under 6,000 apartments listed on Airbnb. Today, we have almost 14,378,” he added, noting the average cost of ordinary rentals has spiked 42% in that same time.
Nardella noted that his government would not go after the 8,000 existing short-term rentals in the city center but would offer tax incentives to property owners who convert their locations to long-term rentals, including an outright cancellation on property taxes for a second home for up to three years.
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A photo of Florence, Italy, one of Europe’s most renowned cities. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)
The Italian government indicated it would adopt a plan that would cap the number of rental days for a property each year at 120, but Nardella argued that would not suffice and that the city required more extreme measures. A short-term lease is defined as lasting 30 days or less.
“If we don’t try to take politically disruptive actions, no one makes a move,” he stressed. “We are tired of announcements. The problem has become structural.”
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Dario Nardella, mayor of Florence, speaks to journalists while awaiting the results of the primaries that will elect the new secretary of the Democratic Party Feb. 26, 2023. (Michele Lapini/Getty Images)
Cities such as Florence and Venice, massive tourism draws for Italy, have seen the supply of available housing plummet the past few years. Students in Florence have even protested against the lack of affordable housing by camping out in tents on campuses.
These cities also carry UNESCO protections for their city centers, though the rampant over-tourism, such as in the case of Venice, has put those designations under threat as the cities fail to maintain the quality and state of the historic sites.
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The historic Ponte Vecchio spans the river Arno that runs through the city of Florence in Tuscany, Italy. (Kevin Britland/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The local populations of these cities also suffer from a mixture of low salaries and high inflation, making it difficult to afford any of the limited supply of apartments in the area.
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Italy’s central government will draft a bill that would require a minimum stay of two nights in a property in the historic city center and areas with high tourism density. But Lorenzo Fagnoni, president of Property Managers Italia, said such rules “go against the liberalism of the market.”
Each residential property rented to tourists would need a national identification code to help track and regulate renting. Those failing to comply would risk a penalty of up to 5,000 euros ($5,500).
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Peter Aitken is a Fox News Digital reporter with a focus on national and global news.