Lonely Planet Writer

As Berlin bans Airbnb rentals, here's what you need to know about cities with short-term rent policies

Berlin is coming down hard on short-term rentals like Airbnb in an effort to keep housing affordable in the German capital.

Colourful murals now adorn what is left of the Berlin Wall.
Colourful murals now adorn what is left of the Berlin Wall. Image by Sagie / CC BY-SA 2.0

The rather unfortunately named ‘Zweckentfremdungsverbot’ law prohibits the rental of whole apartments or houses, with offenders risking fines of as much as €100,000 if they disobey the law. It’s more profitable for landlords to rent on a short-term basis, and authorities are worried that they are holding property off the market in order to rent to travellers and tourists, thereby driving up the price of rent for local Berliners.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky greets 5,000 Airbnb hosts from 110 nationalities attending this year's Airbnb Open in Paris.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky greets 5,000 Airbnb hosts from 110 nationalities attending this year’s Airbnb Open in Paris. Image by PRNewsFoto/Airbnb

Speaking to The Local Berlin urban development head Andreas Geisel has said that he the move is “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.” Whilst Berlin is known for having one of the cheapest rents in Europe, the Germans are keen to keep it that way and prevent the city from suffering a similar housing crisis as experienced in other European cities.

Berlin is banning short-term rentals of houses
Berlin is banning short-term rentals of houses Image by SP Photo

Between 2009 and 2014 the price of Berlin shot up by 56%. Authorities intend to catch people illegally renting houses in violation of the new law through the use of civic spirit, asking for locals to report suspected short-time rentals.

What to know about the latest Airbnb bans:

Other cities with similar bans are Barcelona and New York where Airbnb last year was forced to pay a fine and it is now illegal to rent a whole house for short-term rental. Data produced by Airbnb itself proved that it was having an impact on affordable housing in New York.

 

However, at the same time Airbnb has made a deal with Amsterdam and Paris, where taxes will be collected and handed over by the hospitality website. In London, people who rent out on Airbnb get a tax break in an effort to encourage a sharing economy. Users will still be allowed to rent in Berlin, the law only applies to renting whole houses for short-term rental, not bedrooms within houses. Hosts in breach of the law can be fined, not the guests.