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Greek Court Rejects Neighbors' Bid Against Short-Term Rental

Ευρωκίνηση

(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Dimitropoulos Sotiris)

ATHENS - A Greek court ruling upholding an apartment owner's right to exploit her property through short-term rentals despite strong objections from neighbors was hailed by a landlords' association Tuesday as a major legal victory.

The decision by a lower Athens court, which was made public by the Hellenic Property Federation, rejected a lawsuit by other residents in an apartment building against the continued use of the apartment for short-term rentals.

According to the HPF, the court found that complainants were unable to prove that the short-time rental of the central Athens apartment caused problems to the functioning of the entire building and to the security of its residents.

Short-time rentals have exploded in popularity in Greece during recent years, boosted by a major increase in tourist arrivals, but also have many critics.

Proponents, including the HPF, argue that they allow landlords a steady income at a time when real estate is subject to heavy taxation as a result of the massive financial crisis which the country only started to exit last year.

But critics say the practice is driving rents up out of the reach of many ordinary Greeks and destroying traditional neighborhoods. They also say it places an unfair burden on neighbors in residential buildings by forcing them to put up with a constant stream of often noisy and irresponsible guests.

The debate is particularly acute in Athens — a rapidly developing tourist destination — and Greece's tourism-reliant islands.

The court decision made public Tuesday found that there was no legal limit to the number of guests allowed to stay in the apartment building, according to the HPF. It also found that the apartment owner could not be prevented from exploiting her property through short-term rentals because some of her guests had occasionally engaged in rowdy behavior.

It was not immediately clear whether the complainants would take their case to a higher court.

On Monday, another court ruling in the southern town of Nafplio made headlines by forbidding the owner of an apartment in a residential block from renting her property short-term. Nafplio is a major tourist destination.