Berlin housing law change squeezes Airbnb – TechCrunch

A 2014 change to Berlin’s housing law, aimed at protecting real estate supply and tackling soaring rents, came into force on May 1 – banning short-term tourist rentals of entire apartments without permits municipal.

Partial rentals, where a host rents a room or rooms in their own home, are not affected by the law change.

The city’s urban development manager, Andreas Geisel, describes the movement as “necessary and sensible”, adding: “I am absolutely determined to return these hijacked apartments to Berliners and newcomers”.

Berliners found guilty of breaking the new law face fines of up to €100,000. Residents who suspect their neighbors are encouraged to file anonymous reports online.

Airbnb did not respond to a request for comment on the law change.

The move to Berlin follows similar government actions to protect housing supply in Barcelona, ​​where Airbnb was fined for violating laws requiring apartments rented to tourists to be registered on a regional register.

Barcelona landlords who violate tourist registration rental rules by, for example, listing an unregistered apartment on Airbnb, can also face hefty fines.

It’s a different story in London, which last year changed housing law to specifically penalize the practice of short-term rentals (up to three months a year) without the need for a permit.

In addition, earlier this year the UK government announced tax breaks for people offering short-term rentals – in a bid to encourage the so-called ‘sharing economy’.

Airbnb has also secured a more secure footing in Amsterdam, having signed an agreement with the city authorities at the end of 2014 to collect and remit tourist taxes, starting in February 2015.

Last summer, it also signed a similar agreement with Paris city officials, although unauthorized short-term tourist rentals in the city – Airbnb’s biggest market – may also be subject to criticism. fines.

Airbnb has been under pressure to do more to combat the rise of business accommodation on its platform, and late last year agreed to share more data with city governments.

However, data subsequently released by Airbnb for New York City suggests commercial accommodation plays an important role in its business — and how the platform contributes to taking the housing stock out of the market.

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