Airbnb awaits Berlin ruling on legality of home sharing – EURACTIV.com
A Berlin court is due to make a landmark ruling with ramifications for home rental companies like Airbnb on Wednesday, June 8, when it decides whether landlords can commit to short-term rentals.
Several colocation companies filed a complaint against an effective ban on such rentals in Berlin during the first substantive challenge to such urban legislation in Europe.
People who rent their accommodation in the German capital for periods of less than two months are liable to fines of up to € 100,000. Although homeowners can apply for a permit, city officials have said they will reject 95% of applications.
The Berlin showdown comes a week after the European Commission warned member states against erecting roadblocks or even outright bans on the emergence of a ‘sharing economy’ in everything from apartments to local rides, enforcing laws that are decades or even centuries old.
Airbnb and other home-sharing companies, such as Rocket Internet’s Wimdu, have sought legal advice from the former head of the Berlin City Constitutional Court following the Berlin crackdown. Helge Sodan ruled the new regulation unconstitutional and drafted the complaint.
Airbnb, whose website lists 11,700 apartments in Berlin, has not joined the group as a plaintiff, but a company spokesperson said the verdict would impact Airbnb’s business and that ‘he was watching closely.
Berlin authorities estimate that a total of 15,000 apartments have been withdrawn from the city’s rental market to be operated as businesses housing tourists. City officials say rising rents and a severe housing shortage have left them with no choice but to impose the measures.
Home rental groups say the city is using the new legislation to whitewash structural housing issues, turning short-term roommates into scapegoats.
While a positive verdict does not have binding legal consequences for other jurisdictions, experts expect it to have repercussions across Europe as cities attempt to balance the interests of the world. the travel and tourism industry with those tenants who fear increased rents.
“Cities are watching each other closely to see what kinds of regulations are possible and the Berlin verdict will surely have an impact on the behavior of other cities,” said Gracia Vara Arribas, a lawyer who has advised the EU on the sharing economy.