Florence bans short-term rentals in historic center

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The city of Florence on Thursday announced an immediate ban on new short-term private vacation rentals in the Renaissance city’s historic center, part of an effort to draw full-time residents back to one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

Mayor Dario Nardella called the ban “daring” but legally defensible.

“If we don’t try to take politically disruptive actions, no one makes a move,” Nardella said, referring to expectations that the Italian government would adopt a plan that so far allows only Venice to cap the number of days a property can be rented out at 120.

“We are tired of announcements,” Nardella said. “The problem has become structural.”

Students in Italian cities, including Florence, Milan and Rome, have been camping out in tents on campuses to protest a lack of affordable housing. At the same time, art cities like Florence and Venice have seen their housing stocks depleted by short-term rentals, defined as covering any period less than 30 days.

Nardella said the Florence government would not go after the 8,000 short-term private rentals already operating in the city’s historic center, an area under UNESCO protection as a historic treasure that includes the Uffizi galleries and the Ponte Vecchio. The city as a whole has about 11,000 short-term private rentals.

Instead, the city plans to offer a tax incentive to property owners who convert their places back to long-term rentals. Under the plan, property taxes on a second home would be canceled for up to three years, potentially adding up to thousands of euros (dollars) in savings.