Berlin Cracks Down On Airbnb Due to Housing Shortage

May 6, 2016 Updated: May 12, 2016

Owners can no longer rent houses to tourists in Berlin starting May 1, according to legislation passed by city authorities. In the future, there won’t be a lot of apartments offered on Airbnb and its German competitors Wimdu and 9flats in Berlin.

The new legislation called Zweckentfremdungsverbot aims to resolve a housing shortage for local residents. Those who breach the law can face fines of up to €100,000 ($114,330).

The rents in Berlin have risen faster than any other city in Germany, according to a report by ImmobilienScout24, a German real estate portal. Especially in the Neukölln district of Berlin the rents surged more than 54 percent between 2009 and 2014. And the purchase prices went up more than the rental rates during the same period.

The city authorities have blamed online sharing platforms like Airbnb for reducing housing supply and driving up prices.

According to local media reports, Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s head of urban development defines the new law as a “necessary and sensible instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin.”

“I am absolutely determined to return such misappropriated apartments to the people of Berlin and to newcomers,” he said.

However, it is still possible to rent single rooms in Berlin. The rule restricts renting an entire flat or a house without the city’s permission.

Apartments listed on Airbnb account for only 0.2 percent of the total housing stock, which means roughly one in 500 houses can be found on Airbnb. Considering housing units booked for more than 120 days, the ratio drops to 0.06 percent.

“The tiny fraction of homes listed on Airbnb is far too small to have any significant impact on the availability of housing in Berlin, ” stated Daniel Hofmann, a housing expert from GEWOS

The battle between Airbnb and Berlin started two years ago when the city introduced the new housing law, which gave a two-year transition period, ending May 1.

“Berlin needs clear and simple home sharing rules. The current situation is bad news for Berlin and confusing for regular people who share their homes to pay the bills. Local residents, politicians, and independent experts have all raised concerns about the law and its impact for regular Berliners,” Peter Huntingford, a senior public affairs manager of Airbnb told Epoch Times.

“We continue to believe that home sharing is good for Berlin and will continue to encourage the government to follow the lead of other major cities that have introduced clear, simple and progressive home sharing rules.”

Berlin is the Airbnb capital of Germany. More flats and rooms are offered in Berlin than in Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt combined. More than 20,000 Berliners shared their homes last year on Airbnb.

“The tense housing market is a complex problem that is being driven by migration and a lack of new homes being built – not people sharing their homes through Airbnb,” said Hofmann.

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