Airbnb dominated by professional owners | Germany | In-depth news and reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW

Renting a vacation apartment on Airbnb has become a lucrative and fast-growing business model – which the popular online platform is actively promoting, according to a new study from the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ).

After analyzing a database of more than 37,000 Airbnb offers in the ten largest German cities, the newspaper – in collaboration with journalists from De Tijd in Belgium, Le Monde in France and Trouw in the Netherlands – discovered that There were around 1,290 landlords listing more than one country apartment on Airbnb, a development that is driving up rental prices and emptying many downtown areas.

About 58% of all listings on Airbnb in Germany are for entire apartments or even apartment buildings – meaning that professional owners are indeed at the heart of Airbnb’s business. Meanwhile, shared single bed offers represent less than 2% of the site’s listings.

Some rental companies, like Cologne-based Homerent Immobilien, have around 4.5 million euros ($ 4 million) in revenue using Airbnb as part of their business model. The newspaper also found that many of these companies disguise their offers with advertising suggesting that they are made by individuals who are renting their own homes.

There are also start-ups in Germany that take over the management of your Airbnb property, posting the ad, providing the keys to guests and then cleaning it up.

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Even though Airbnb has told SZ that its business model is all about “home sharing,” the platform appears to actively encourage professionalization – with guidance, including stipulating defined check-in times.

However, Airbnb denied such claims, telling DW: “This data is wrong and uses wrong methodology to draw wrong conclusions. Airbnb has always been a platform where different types of accommodation can be listed, including boutique hotels and guesthouses The vast majority of guests are roommates, individuals who occasionally rent a room in their apartment or all of their accommodation when on vacation, on business or on holiday. need to move between two cities. “

Cologne has the highest rate of Airbnb deals, with 1,154 overnight stays per 100,000 inhabitants, but Berlin has by far the highest number of Airbnb deals in total: 38,500, a figure that shows how far the platform is. come to dominate the sector: the whole of the German capital the industry of tourism offers 139,000 beds per night.

But the Berlin government believes it has the problem under control – after introducing a law in 2014 that bans the commercial use of residential space for vacations (as well as demolishing residential properties or leaving them empty and do not put them on the market for more than six months). Berlin, like most German cities, is experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing. Rents are increasing at a rate of almost 10% per year, even though the city has a rent cap and has introduced one of the toughest bans on holiday apartments – many other European cities also have some sort of regulations.

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“The fact that renting through Airbnb or other platforms is on the rise, and not just for roommates – that’s a development we’ve seen, and that’s also what the ban is for,” Katrin Dietl said. , spokesperson for the Berlin Housing Ministry. “We consider this law to be constitutionally correct, and we will continue to abide by it.”

Some 60 officials are charged with enforcing the Berlin ban, with the power to impose fines for violations, and, according to Dietl, the ban has been successful: 2,500 old holiday apartments have been handed over on the regular rental market at the end of last year. . Dietl says it’s important. “If you look at Prague, you see that the center of the city is practically empty during the winter, because no one really lives there anymore,” she said.

But ordinary owners also feel that they have become collateral damage to the regulations. Maria Becher, spokesperson for Haus & Grund, an association that represents the interests of homeowners, says they have followed the development of such bans in many countries. “We are very critical,” she said. “We see this as an infringement of private property. Our members on average own about seven apartments, they are not large corporations.”

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