Berlin Clamps Down On Short-Term Rental Websites

Those who are caught leasing out entire properties in Berlin on Airbnb and other similar websites, instead of single rooms, will face hefty fines, reported The Telegraph.

Under the new law called Zweckentfremdungsverbot, which was passed by the authorities in 2014, but only came into effect on Saturday (30 April), violators face a fine of up to €100,000 (S$155,082).

This comes amidst fears by city officials that the trend of renting entire apartments to tourists via Airbnb, Wimdu and 9 Flats is further worsening the city’s housing shortage.

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However, there are only 11,701 listings for Berlin, representing 0.4 percent of the total number of flats in the German capital, said Airbnb, which allows people to list, find and rent accommodation.

“The tiny fraction of homes listed on Airbnb is far too small to have any significant impact on the availability of housing in Berlin,” said Daniel Hofmann, a housing expert from Hamburg-based research firm, GEWOS.

“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.”

Following the implementation of the new law, the number of Airbnb listings in Berlin plunged by 40 percent.

It has also prompted another property sharing portal, Wimdu, to file a legal case, while the owners of 9Flats have sold the website to a Singapore firm.

“We face a law in Berlin that would drive us into bankruptcy,” noted 9Flats CEO Roman Bach.



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