With the Greek peak summer holiday season fast approaching, hosts leasing out their properties through sharing economy digital platforms are seeking the best way ahead to make themselves compliant with the applicable regulatory framework.
The current regime on short-term leases provides for a series of requirements that property managers, i.e. individuals or legal entities responsible for posting properties on digital platforms and general leasing arrangements, need to fulfill in order to ensure that a property is duly uploaded on a platform and well registered with the competent registries and authorities. Such requirements do not apply for rentals via any sharing economy platform before 01.01.2018 and/or properties that have been already awarded an EOT authorized license.
The general rule extends the 90-day qualifying period of the previous regimefor short-term leases and calls for leases that do not exceed the maximum period of one year, with a 90-day or 60-day limit exception in case certain “protection of housing” rules apply.
The new requirements for Airbnb-style properties include the obligation of the property manager to enroll in the registry for short-term leases operated by the Independent Authority for Public Revenue (AADE), submit all information required per leased property such as income beneficiaries and percentages and, subsequently, obtain a unique registration code for each of the properties, which shall appear at a prominent position in each listing of the property on the digital platform.The latter applies also for properties bearing an EOT authorized license, in which case the number of the license should accompany all postings of the respective property. Failure of the property managers to enroll in AADE’s electronic registry as per the requirements set by law or any property listing bearing an incorrect registration number may incur administrative penalties of as high as Euro 5,000.
Property managers that have been duly registered with the short-term leases registry are required to file with the registry individual reports related to each lease of their property. Such reports should necessarily include information such as the registration code of the property, information on tenants, duration of stay, the rental amount charged, the digital platform where the posting was uploaded, the means of payment by the tenant as well as any booking cancellation and the respective cancellation fees. The law requires that such reporting should take place immediately upon the tenant’s departure and, more specifically, by midnight of the following business day.
As regards the tax aspects of the aforementioned real estate regulatory framework, the law provides for two distinct classes of income depending on the nature of the services provided alongside the lease of the property. More specifically, any income from short-term leases shall be treated as income from real estate and, therefore, be exempt from VAT, as far as such leases do not imply the provision of any other services except for bed linens. In any other case, where additional services are rendered, such income shall be considered to be an income deriving from business activities.
Although all previous regulatory frameworks that have aspired to properly and efficiently regulate the sharing economy market have failed to do so by not being observed by the respective taxpayers, the current legislation appears to be user-friendlier, by imposing fewer restrictions to all stakeholders involved (property managers, income beneficiaries, property owners, etc.).The new registration and listing requirements provide for a more straightforward and less complicated procedure, making the short-term lease market an attractive business pole for property owners. However, the operational efficiency of the current framework will be assessed in overall following the end of the summer touristic period, when there will be a clearer image of all the activities recorded with respect to short-leases and a compliance assessment could come up with more accurate results.
Senior Associate Greece