Over 30,000 Dutch claiming service fees back from Airbnb
Over 30 thousand Dutch Airbnb customers have turned to claims offices and consumer organizations to demand their service fees back from the online rental platform. This follows a ruling by the Amsterdam court in March saying that Airbnb illegally charges service costs twice - once from the tenant and once from the landlord, NOS reports.
The court compared Airbnb's double service costs to the forbidden double commission costs that brokers sometimes charge for real estate contracts. The judge ruled that Airbnb must repay 470 euros of service costs to the customer who filed the case.
Claims office Twee Heren BV, who assisted the customer in the Amsterdam case, already had about 10 thousand other people sign up for similar assistance. "This already concerns 2 million euros in incorrectly paid service costs," director Nicolaas Huppes said to the broadcaster. "Around a hundred new people register every day." Nearly 12 thousand people have registered with claim service Appeal. And consumer associations Consumentenbond and ConsumentenClaim is dealing with approximately 9,700 people. So far the claims involve a total of over 5 million euros.
To test how other Dutch judges look at the case, Twee Heren submitted new individual cases to 11 courts. Appeal also submitted a new case. This is to build up extra legal precedence before submitting their mass claim. "We expect to have the first rulings in three months," Huppes said. Consumentenbond and ConsumentenClaim are working on one mass claim.
Airbnb is not worried about the mass claims, a spokesperson told NOS. "Decisions by subdistrict courts in the Netherlands are not a precedent. This means that subsequent judges are not bound by these decisions," the spokesperson said about the March ruling. "In addition, this ruling is contrary to the ruling of the hightest European judge, who recently decided that Airbnb is not a real estate agent but an information service."
The European ruling was on a French case, but there is also support in other Dutch cases, according to Airbnb. "Last year, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled that Booking.com is not a broker but an online booking service." Booking.com offers similar services to Airbnb. According to Airbnb, there were also two "similar cases" the courts of Rotterdam and Utrecht in which the claims were dismissed.