Swiss city of Lucerne moves to heavily restrict Airbnb

Swiss city of Lucerne moves to heavily restrict Airbnb

The Swiss city of Lucerne has voted to restrict the use of Airbnb within city limits. The referendum was designed to make it financially unviable to operate houses and apartments in Lucerne as tourist-only, in an attempt to soften the current housing crisis.

Swiss citizens vote to restrict Airbnbs in Lucerne

At a poll on March 12, Swiss citizens voted by 64,25 percent to 34,7 to accept the “Protect housing - regulate Airbnb” initiative. The proposal, designed by the Social Democratic Party (SP), Young Socialists and Tenants’ Association, is designed to make it much harder for landlords to offer their properties exclusively to tourists.

Under the plans, apartments in Lucerne can only be rented to those who aren’t registered in the city - i.e, tourists - for a maximum of 90 days a year. Beyond this timeframe, apartments and housing must be rented to people who are either citizens of Switzerland or hold Swiss residence permits for the Canton of Lucerne. 

Supporters hope Airbnb will return to house sharing concept

In practice, this will make running a profitable Airbnb impossible. Supporters hope that the vote will mean the provider will return to the “sharing house” subletting concept that the company was once known for.

The changes will only affect housing in Lucerne that is rented as a holiday home - an additional proposal that would have extended the policy to second homes, and a watered-down counter-proposal by the government restricting the law to “touristy areas” were both rejected by the public. By accepting the vote, Lucerne will join other areas like Bern, Vaud and Geneva in heavily restricting Airbnbs.

Much-needed housing freed up by vote, supporters claim

“People are fed up with rising rents and a shortage of housing. Today they have expressly taken a stand against it," SP city councillor Mario Stübi told 20 Minuten. On the eve of the vote, supporters argued that the policy would free up much-needed housing for the residents of the city, at a time when the Swiss Tenants' Association has warned of a "social time bomb" if rental costs continue to rise

On the flip side, the Non-Partisan Committee in Lucerne told the newspaper that they "regret that the initiative has now practically completely banned holiday apartments for tourists in Lucerne.” “Especially for families and guests with modest means, there will be hardly any opportunities to stay overnight”, the committee stated, although they did concede that the result showed "the protection of living space is non-negotiable for the population, especially in the current environment."

After the vote, the Lucerne City Council announced that they would be following the demands of the initiative. "The City Council will now examine how [the referendum] can be implemented and will submit a proposal for the implementation of the initiative to the City Council within a year," it told 20 Minuten.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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