By Cailey Rizzo
September 06, 2018
Raquel Maria Carbonell Pagola/Getty Images

In less than nine months, almost 500 people were pushed from their homes in Florence as landlords cleared buildings to make space for vacation rentals, according to Italy's tenant union.

According to a report in La Nazione, 478 residents were evicted from their lifelong homes in Florence from October 1, 2017 to June 30 of this year. Many of the landlords explicitly stated that they wanted vacation rental space in the buildings instead, according to the local branch of Sunia, the national union on tenants.

In 2014, there were 4,659 short-term holiday rentals available in the city. Last year, that number was 18,000. Researchers at the University of Siena believe that about 20 percent of all homes in Florence’s historic center are now on holiday rental sites exclusively for tourist use, the highest of any Italian city, The Local Italy reported.

Sunia estimates that about 1,000 Florentines leave the city center (whether evicted or priced out) every year to live elsewhere.

Italy has so far resisted strict regulations on holiday rentals, unlike governments in Spain that have have banned Airbnbs and the like from historic city centers in Madrid and Valencia.

Last year, Florence implemented a “tourist tax” on vacation rentals across the city. The city can now make up to $3.50 (€3) per night on every visitor who books a homestay.

But Florence isn’t exactly welcoming all tourists with open arms. This week, Florence passed a ruling that made it illegal to eat on the streets. Tourists who are caught snacking on four historic streets in the city center are subject to a fine of up to $580 (€500).