berlin, Potsdamer platz, Berlin wall

Renting out your entire apartment on Airbnb is now illegal in Berlin

Berlin is poor but sexy, people say. So poor, that thousands of inhabitants would sublet their flats to tourists. And so sexy, that everyone would take the offer. As of May 2016, things are different. Should you come to Berlin and opt for a private home, you will have to share it with the people who live in it. Because Berliners are not allowed to rent out entire properties on Airbnb and similar platforms anymore. Offenders are subject to fines, which can go up to 100.000 Euros. What?…

Not funny for all of you guys searching for authentic homes for your stay rather than hotels. And not funny for tens of thousands of Berliners who have been renting out holiday apartments for years. Hundreds of people have filed complaints over the new law. The court will also handle the case of Wimdu (another holiday rental platform) in June, which sued the authorities over the same issue.

For the times they are a-changing…

I don’t know how Berliners will put up with this, since the situation used to be very different. I though it was a joke when I first heard that a jobless friend of a friend had rented a tent on the sandy beaches at Tropical Islands – an amusement park just outside of Berlin – in order to sublet his flat for the entire winter. But it was true: The guy lived there for a few months, enjoying the artificial balmy climate rather than the dreary Berlin drizzle – for only 59 Euros a month. Meanwhile, his apartment was available for paying tourists who covered not only his rent, but also enough extra to make unemployment a comfortable lifestyle.

It seems to be a global trend for people to sublet their apartments to tourists who’d rather not pay hotel prices. And I find it brilliant. I myself have rented a holiday home in Greece via Airbnb and so far so good. In Berlin, this kind of business became an alternative way of living for those who have one or more apartments or houses. Well, not anymore.

Collateral damage

According to the Berlin Hotel Association (DEHOGA), there are between 15,000 and 25,000 holiday apartments in the city. But only a few tens of businesses, incorporating 2,729 beds, are legally registered.

Where, I wonder, were the other 10,000 odd Berliners are living? Probably at friends’ places.

I should know better. I used to host a friend every now and then for a few weeks; she had lost her job and desperately needed to sublet her flat in downtown Berlin. She quickly created an ad with pictures for one of the many online platforms. A piece of cake. The offers kept coming and, with the rental price of a few days, my friend could finance the rent for the whole month. This was a few years back. My friend will now have to find other solutions for fixing her finances when in need.

And you guys, well, what should I say? Make friends in Berlin. This way, you’ll secure yourself a warm bed for free in Germany’s capital 😉 As for Berlin, my city might become a bit poorer again without being allowed to rent out its apartments, but its sexiness will not decrease. 😉


Categories: life in Berlin

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5 replies »

  1. It is also illegal to sublet a rental apartment or house in NZ perhaps the same with Australia as well. If you own it then you can do what you want from it like AirBnB. I didn’t know that Berlin was lenient before about this but I think the change is for the safety of landlords property especially now what’s happening in the World at least the owner can still have some control over their property. I hope you understand the other side of the coin 🙂

    • Yes, of course you’re right. Literally tens of thousand of people would sublet their flats in the past years in Berlin. You know, Berliners are quite bohemian and creative when it comes to earning money:))

  2. It is strange to change the laws now. This flat renting was how we outsiders could enjoy seeing the real Berlin. It worked for everyone concerned. 🙂

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