Berlin bans thousands of Airbnb properties
AAuthorities in Berlin are trying to crack down on Airbnb and its rivals with the threat of heavy fines for users who rent entire properties rather than individual rooms.
The new law known as “Zweckentfremdungsverbot”, which was passed in 2014 but did not come into effect until April 30, is part of an attempt to ensure affordable housing for permanent residents of the city.
Violators can face fines of up to € 100,000 (£ 79,000), and residents have been asked to anonymously report any suspected violators.
The controversial move is a “necessary and judicious instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin,” according to Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s head of urban development, but has sparked outrage among users of vacation rental websites.
“It’s unfair, we are forbidden to do our job,” ‘Marika’, 48, who rents four apartments in downtown Berlin on Airbnb told AFP. She claimed the move forced Berliners to pay for the local government’s failing housing policy while meeting the needs of the city’s hotel industry.
But others were not surprised by the new legislation, given some of the practices that would take place.
“[What about] the beautiful couple with two small apartments who move together into a bigger place and keep both apartments to rent on Airbnb, “asked artist agent Tim Boening, 41, who rents his loft in the trendy neighborhood of Kreuzberg in Berlin. “I don’t think it’s good, it should be stopped.”
Airbnb argues that its hosts are “ordinary people who occasionally share their homes to pay the bills.”
“The typical Airbnb host in Berlin earns an additional € 1,800 per year by sharing their space – either a spare room or the entire accommodation when out of town – for 34 nights a year,” said he declared.
Daniel Hofmann, independent GEWOS housing expert, a Hamburg-based research firm, added: “The small fraction of the listings listed on Airbnb is far too small to have a significant impact on the availability of accommodations in Berlin. The tight housing market is a complex issue that is driven by migration. and a lack of new homes under construction – no people sharing their homes through Airbnb. “
Airbnb claimed government officials have made a series of “contradictory and puzzling statements” in recent weeks about property rental restrictions, according to which Berlin residents may:
- Share space in their homes, as long as they don’t accept money
- Share guest rooms in their homes
- Share up to 50% of their home with guests
- Share their homes, as long as they don’t take the homes off the market
“In the future, we want to work with everyone in Berlin on clear and fair rules that allow people to share their homes”, Airbnb said in a statement.
“Both contribute to efficient use of space and boost economic opportunities for local residents and their communities. “
Wimdu, a rival property-sharing website, has filed a lawsuit alleging that the regulations violate Berlin’s constitution, while the owners of the 9Flats company sold the brand to a Singaporean company.
“We are facing a law in Berlin that would bankrupt us,” 9Flats CEO Roman Bach told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“We will continue to encourage Berlin policymakers to listen to their citizens and follow the lead of other big cities like Paris, London, Amsterdam or Hamburg and create new clear rules for normal people who share their own homes.” Airbnb spokesperson Julian Trautwein told AFP.
Burkhard Kieker, CEO of VisitBerlin, told Telegraph Travel: “Holiday apartments are just as integral to an international city as an attractive hotel landscape is. However, in recent years Berlin has experienced uncontrollable growth in the former.
“Berlin will only continue to be a tourist attraction if it remains authentic. The city center must therefore ensure that it maintains its local structure and supports its inhabitants.
Founded and based in San Francisco, with listings in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries, Airbnb is one of the largest private property rental sites in the world.
Its bookings in Berlin alone would represent a “parallel market of 6.1 million additional overnight stays” per year in the city, which recorded a total of 30.2 million overnight stays last year.
But following the deadline of April 30 and the arrival of the latest legislation, Airbnb listings in Berlin reportedly drop 40%.
Berlin is the latest city to face a crackdown on real estate rental websites. Earlier this year, Airbnb apartments in Paris – the company’s largest market, overtaking New York and London with more than 40,000 listings last year – were raided by authorities in an attempt to catch all owners who have been renting their property for over a year. than the legal limit of 120 days in a year, the French newspaper Local reported.
A new survey has revealed that 44% of homes in France listed on Airbnb are permanently available for rent.
The latest rental policies for Airbnb and other properties around the world
- Airbnb has entered into an agreement with the city of Florence to make the tourist tax rules clearer and simpler, educate hosts on house sharing rules and promote responsible tourism.