Furnished property reservation sites: a new "platform operator" status


Law no. 2016-1321 of 7 October 2016 for a Digital Republic, dedicated to new technologies legislation, could not ignore the major impact of online platforms on reservations of furnished rentals, with the launch of new players such as Airbnb and Homelidays.

Article 49 of the Law explicitly inserts the notion of "online platform operator" into article L.111-7 of the French Consumer Code.

A platform operator will be defined as "any natural person or legal entity offering, on a professional basis and whether remunerated or not, an online public communication service involving:

"1. The ranking or indexing, based on computer algorithms, of content, goods or services offered or uploaded by third parties;

"2. Or the introduction of several parties with a view to the sale of a property, the supply of a service or the exchange or sharing of content, goods or a service."

This new regulation concerns e-commerce players and, particularly, platforms offering reservation of furnished rentals between private individuals.

They are now bound by an obligation of fairness towards consumers and must provide them with "fair, clear and transparent" information regarding:

  • the general terms and conditions of the intermediation service they provide and/or the content indexing rules;
  • the existence of a contractual or capitalistic link or remuneration paid to them which could potentially influence the ranking or presentation of the content indexed or offered;
  • the advertiser's status and obligations.

A further decree is expected to set out the implementing conditions of this obligation.

In addition, a new article L.111-7-1 stipulates that operators whose activity generates a certain level of traffic must inform consumers of "good practice".