Fresh caps on private property rentals through Airbnb and similar online platforms have been introduced in Berlin, Germany, in a bid to retain housing affordable for local people.
There are mounting concerns in the German capital that a rise in the volume of people letting homes to tourists through sites such as Airbnb, Wimdu and 9Flats is restricting the availability of rental property to locals, pushing up rental values in the process.
Private landlords who attempt to disobey the new law – Zweckentfremdungsverbot – risk being fined, as part of what Andreas Geisel, Berlin’s head of urban development, described as a “a necessary and sensible instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin”.
Rents in Berlin increased by more than half (56%) between 2009 and 2014, and Geisel insisted that he is absolutely determined to return such “misappropriated apartments to the people of Berlin and to newcomers”.
As one of Europe’s premier travel destinations, the Airbnb trend has affected the local hotel industry, whch partly explains why a law was passed in 2014 that gave a two-year transition period that ended last weekend, allowing homeowners to become limited to renting only rooms via such sites, not entire flats or houses. Offenders can face fines of up to €100,000 (£78,600).
However, a property investor in Berlin has expressed anger at the change, having rented out four apartments near Berlin city centre via Airbnb.
Airbnb Germany said: “Berliners want clear and simple rules for home sharing, so they can continue to share their own homes with guests. We will continue to encourage Berlin policymakers to listen to their citizens and to follow the example of other big cities such as Paris, London, Amsterdam or Hamburg and create new, clear rules for normal people who are sharing their own homes.”
In the UK, Airbnb phenomenon is “a growing issue” for landlords, according to eviction specialist Landlord Action.