Tallinn mayor wants to require licensing for guest apartments

Apartments in Tallinn's Old Town. Photo is illustrative. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) wants to amend the Tourism Act to include the stipulation that apartments may only offer accommodation services if they have been licensed to do so by the local government, one of the requirements in turn for which is the consent of at least two thirds of apartment association members.

According to Kõlvart, many Tallinn residents that live in apartment buildings in which apartments are also rented on a short-term basis are bothered by the effects of changes to the living environment and safety caused by the use of guest apartments. He noted that guests staying at guest apartments change out on a frequent basis, making it impossible to reach an agreement on an apartment building's shared rules with each and every guest.

"There are frequent cases of those staying at guest apartments not respecting shared property, such as stairwells or elevators, not sorting waste, noise levels being significantly higher than in apartments occupied by long-term renters and curfews not being respected," the mayor said. "Apartment parties are frequent, people smoke in areas not designated for smoking, leave cigarette butts behind, etc."

He also highlighted the aspect of the protection of health from the perspectives of both long-term renters and clients, noting that health requirements are reviewed in hotels on a daily basis, for example, while they are not reviewed at all in the case of guest apartments.

"When it comes to guest apartments, it isn't possible to verify compliance with health requirements already for the sole reason that both the state and local government lack an overview of the exact addresses of guest apartments," he added.

Kõlvart is recommending that the Tourism Act be amended to grant powers to local governments for the licensing of the provision of accommodation services at guest apartments and accommodation establishments alike as well as lay down the relevant conditions for licensing. This would mean that apartments could only offer accommodation services if they have been licensed to do so by the local government.

He also highlighted what the requirements would be for being licensed, the most important of which would be the consent of at least two thirds of apartment association members. Both the Health Board and the Rescue Board would also have to sign off on an apartment meeting health and fire safety requirements. Applicants for the license would also have to pay a one-time licensing fee, and licenses would be valid for a period of three years.

The mayor finds that supervision of the fulfillment of licensing requirements should be the responsibility of the local government. He also recommended specific fines for the unlicensed provision of accommodation services at a guest apartment.

"To amend the state supervision chapter of the Tourism Act and stipulate that the unlicensed provision of accommodation services in an apartment is punishable with a fine of up to 300 fine units," he said. "If said act is done by a legal person, they will be punished with a fine of up to €6,000."

According to Kõlvart's information, in 2019, a total of approximately 4,500 different short-term rental spaces were listed on the Airbnb platform, among them 3,800 apartments or houses. In four years, this number has increased 2.3-fold.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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