With the easing of travel restrictions, the demand for short-term accommodation through house-renting applications, such as Airbnb or Booking.com is slowly increasing. However, the number of Airbnb apartments offered for short-term rentals currently stands at 10 percent of the pre-Covid level.
In recent years, Prague has become one of the most popular destinations for travellers making use of the Airbnb model of accommodation.
However, the shared accommodation market has been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
While in 2019, tourists in Prague could choose from nearly 13,000 such apartments, the offer has currently dropped to around 1,000. Despite the current easing of restrictions, most landlords continue to prefer long-term rentals.
A small studio in Štěpánská Street, just off Wenceslas Square, is one of the few apartments that has remained on the market during the pandemic, although it has been empty most of the time.
Matěj Koutný from the company Blahobyty, who administers this and other apartments in the Czech capital, says that demand has started to recover, although very slowly.
“We are far from the pre-Covid levels, even in terms of prices, but something is finally happening on the tourist market. I would say we currently stand at 25 percent.”
Despite the drop in the number of short-term rentals through shared accommodation platforms, Prague City Hall is still trying to push through the stricter regulation of such services.
A new regulation requiring companies such as Airbnb and Booking.com to provide data on rented flats, their owners and middlemen, which was approved in 2020, did not turn out to be very effective, admits Hana Marvanová, a city councillor with United Forces for Prague.
“There is a problem with both delivery and enforcement. That's why we have joined with other European cities to ask the European Commission and the European Parliament to make the obligation enforceable throughout the European Union.”
A major influence on the shape of the shared accommodation market could be a new amendment proposed by the city authorities. It gives municipalities the power to regulate short-term accommodation directly.
However, it is unlikely that the legislation will be approved before the parliamentary elections, says Mrs Marvanová.
Matěj Koutný, who is also chairman of the Czech Association of Private Landlords and Residents, disagrees with the proposal, arguing that it could further restrict the supply of available housing for tourists.
Mr Koutný says that rather than giving the city authorities more powers in regulating shared accommodation services, it would be more effective to focus on enforcing the existing rules.