Early 2013, the Amsterdam city council announced that it would take steps against illegal hotels. For that purpose, it would consult websites such as Airbnb through which holiday rentals are offered to tourists. In October 2013, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled that renting out private residences to tourists is not allowed without the permission of the home owners' association to which the residence is subject. The announcement and the court ruling considerably limited the possibilities for private holiday rentals in Amsterdam.

Recently, however, the Amsterdam city council decided that home owners and tenants may incidentally rent out their private residences to tourists through popular websites such as Airbnb and Wimdu, without a permit. As a consequence of this change in policy, the thriving private holiday rentals sector in Amsterdam has received quite a boost. In its new policy, which is effective immediately, the city council differentiates between incidental rentals ("holiday rentals") and professional rentals ("shortstay"). The latter does not fall within the scope of the liberalization and is therefore subject to strict limitations. Whether the property is rented out professionally or commercially is determined on a case by case basis.

The change in policy is prompted by the city council's view that renting out private homes to tourists as holiday accommodation should be allowed provided that certain conditions, such as payment of tourist tax, compliance with fire safety regulation and a maximum number of guests, are met and strictly adhered to. Council houses (subsidized rental homes) may not be rented out to tourists.

The council indicated that the changes in the policies may provide for cheaper accommodation to tourists and boost tourism in and the economy of Amsterdam.