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Residential property owners prefer tourists over tenants
by Nikos Roussanoglou, ekathimerini.com, 18 August 2016

Rentals of residential property in Greece to tourists through accommodation sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway have shot up this summer, according to realtors who are reporting almost daily evictions of tenants in favor of short-term leases to foreign visitors who pay by the day.

The temptation for a property owner is of course significant, as a house near the sea on the southern coast of Athens, for example or in close proximity to one or more major museums or archaeological sites can fetch between 50 and 60 euros per day, which is well above what owners would earn from a monthly lease.

According to the most recent available figures from Airbnb, there are around 30,000 residences to let in Greece. Adding the homes rented via other accommodation sites, the overall number is estimated at more than 50,000 around the country. In the case of Airbnb, the increase in numbers compared to last year is impressive at close to 135 percent. The growth of this market shows no signs of abating.

Sector professionals argue that the skyrocketing supply is due to a law implemented last November, which allows owners to lease their homes to tourists without needing certification from the Greek National Tourism Organization, on the condition that the lease is shorter than 30 days.

The issue that has cropped up now is whether any steps will be taken to ensure that owners abide by some basic regulations regarding services, security and cleanliness. Special property management companies have already started to appear, acting on behalf of owners who want to advertise houses or apartments on popular holiday rental platforms.

The downside of all this is the rampant tax evasion that seems to pervade the practice, as professional realtors say that the majority of homeowners "forget" to declare the income made from leases, even though the law stipulates that each one must be registered on the Taxis system.

So, unless clients demand an invoice, it seems that most owners are happy to, say, declare one or two leases out of the 30 they may have in a year.

Professionals estimate that this new market will deprive the state coffers of around 700-800 million euros in tax revenues this year.

Friday August 18, 2017
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