Digital platforms as game changers in urban planning and governance? The contentious regulation of short-term rentals in European cities and its judicialization


  • Dr Francesca Artioli Université Paris Est-Créteil, Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris, Lab’Urba
  • Prof. Claire Colomb University of Cambridge
  • Dr Thomas Aguilera Sciences Po Rennes, ARENES




Over the past 10 years, many European city governments have started to develop a variety of regulations to manage platform-mediated short-term rentals (STR), a phenomenon that became a contentious public problem. This paper presents some of the results of a research project (2016-2023) that compared the regulation of STR in 12 European cities (Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Prague, Rome, Vienna) and will be the object of a forthcoming book (Aguilera et al. 2024). Combining the comparative sociology of multilevel urban governance, public policies, and the political economy of urban capitalism, we explain how and why local governments – faced with the same global phenomenon – have adopted different modes of regulation, and show the socio-political effects that regulation produces on local governance.

In this paper, we will present two aspects of the forthcoming book. First, we analysed the nature of the emerging regulations in the 12 cities according to ten elements of regulation, from which we created an ‘index of regulatory intensity’. We subsequently crossed that index against different institutional, socio-economic and political variables, which led us to identify three ideal-typical ‘worlds of STR regulation’ in Europe.

Second, we paid particular attention to the activities of digital platforms as new urban actors, policy entrepreneurs, and ‘game changers’ in planning and housing regulations (and their enforcement), and to the subsequent judicialization and transnational rescaling of local regulatory conflicts at the European Union (EU) level. Different pieces of EU law have been mobilised by various actors in the regulatory conflicts around STR, leading to pressures to modify the existing EU legal framework. In the presentation we will focus in more depth on the case of France and Paris, in the run-up to the Olympic Games, to discuss what digitalisation and ‘platformisation’ do to the possibility of (local) state regulation of building use and housing.


Aguilera, T., Artioli F., and Colomb, C. (2019) Les villes contre Airbnb? Locations meublées de courte durée, plateformes numériques et gouvernance urbaine: enjeux de régulation dans les villes européennes. In: Courmont, A. and Le Galès, P. (eds) Gouverner la Ville Numérique. Paris: PUF, La Vie des Idées, pp. 27-45.

Aguilera, T., Artioli F., and Colomb, C. (2021) Explaining the diversity of policy responses to platform-mediated short-term rentals in European cities: a comparison of Barcelona, Paris and Milan. Environment and Planning A, 53(7), 1689-1712.

Aguilera, T., Artioli F., and Colomb, C. (forthcoming) Governing Platform Capitalism. Conflicts over Short-Term Rental Housing in European Cities. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell (IJURR Studies in Urban and Social Change series)

Colomb, C. and Moreira de Souza, T. (2021) Regulating Short-Term Rentals. Platform-Based Property Rentals in European Cities: the Policy Debates. London: Property Research Trust.