Berlin government legislates against Airbnb | Airbnb
Berlin began restricting rentals of private properties through Airbnb and similar online platforms on Sunday, threatening heavy fines in an attempt to keep housing affordable for locals.
Authorities in the German capital fear that the trend of people renting apartments to tourists through sites such as Airbnb, Wimdu and 9Flats will reduce the limited real estate supply and drive up rents.
A new law – Zweckentfremdungsverbot – was described by Andreas Geisel, Head of Urban Development Berlin, as “a necessary and judicious instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin… I am absolutely determined to return these hijacked apartments to Berliners and newcomers”.
Rents in Berlin rose 56% between 2009 and 2014, but are low compared to other major European cities at around € 10 (£ 8) per square meter this year.
As Berlin has emerged as one of the top travel destinations in Europe, with 30.2 million overnight stays last year, the Airbnb trend has affected the local hotel industry. According to research firm GBI, online private bookings represent a “parallel market of 6.1 million additional overnight stays” per year.
The law was passed in 2014, but gave a two-year transition period that ended on Saturday, when owners limited themselves to only renting rooms through such sites, not entire apartments or houses. Offenders are liable to fines of up to € 100,000.
The city appealed to the “civic spirit” of residents, asking them to anonymously report suspected abuse online.
Tim Boening, 41, who rents a loft in trendy Kreuzberg, said he was not shocked by the law, given the practices he had seen. He quoted “the nice couple with two small apartments who move together into a bigger place and keep the two apartments to rent on Airbnb… I don’t think that’s good – it should be stopped.
But a 48-year-old woman who declined to give her name expressed fury at the change, having rented four apartments near the city center through Airbnb. She claimed that the city was making Berliners pay for the failure of its housing policy while meeting the needs of the hospitality industry.
She was particularly angry at the demand for information on offenders, saying that “in Germany, of all places, maybe we should reconsider this sort of thing”.
Airbnb Germany said: “Berliners want clear and simple house-sharing rules, so that they can continue to share their own house with guests. We will continue to encourage Berlin’s policymakers to listen to their citizens and follow the lead of other big cities like Paris, London, Amsterdam or Hamburg and create clear new rules for normal people who share their own homes. “
Wimdu has filed a lawsuit, arguing that the law violates Berlin’s constitution. The owners of 9Flats told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “We are facing a law in Berlin that would lead us to bankruptcy.