Berlin to ban "repurposing" of living space

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The Berlin Senate has submitted a draft law to ban the misappropriation or repurposing of living space (Zweckentfremdungsverbot-Gesetz), with the declared aim of keeping housing affordable. Commercial leases (i.e. for offices, daycare, etc.) that are concluded before the law comes into effect remain valid and do not have to be terminated, but people renting them out as holiday flats or operating them as B&Bs will have a two-year "transition period" before that practice will be banned. The law is expected to be passed this summer, from which point people who rent out their places as holiday flats or other accommodation will have two months to register with the city to become eligible for the "transition period".

 

I read in another article that the German Hospitality Association (Dehoga) estimates that 18,000 flats are being used as holiday rentals, while the Senate estimates 9,000-12,000.

 

So if you're currently riding the Ferienwohnung gravy train, you might want to consider getting a regular tenant in the medium term.

 

Article at Berlin.de (in German)

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Many other cities with scarce/expensive housing have similar bans. Berlin used to have one, too, but it was lifted in 2002. No existing commercial leases will be voided. Exceptions can and will be granted in cases where the public good is involved (daycare, community center, housing asylum-seekers, etc.), but you'd be hard-pressed to argue that your holiday flat rental serves the public good.

 

It seems they've done their homework on this one.

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How will this be enforced? Hypothetically speaking, say I rent my flat out to holiday makers and there are never any complaints from the existing neighbours etc. how will the state ever find out about it?

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Remember you are living in Germany - they have ways of knowing things - not least the neighbours! Be sure there will be a busybody neighbour in your apartment building who notices new people in the apartment every week or two and will report it.

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Meanwhile, we will continue to enjoy staying at AirBnB favourite places when visiting Berlin. Affordable, comfortable, interesting contact with hosts, and so much more atmospheric than those cheap plastic cookie-cutter hotels.

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How will this be enforced? Hypothetically speaking, say I rent my flat out to holiday makers and there are never any complaints from the existing neighbours etc. how will the state ever find out about it?

 

You have to advertise somewhere, right?

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You have to advertise somewhere, right?

 

I suppose you're right. I can just see it now, the army of Beamte trawling airBnB and 9Flats etc. looking to catch people out.

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I suppose you're right. I can just see it now, the army of Beamte trawling airBnB and 9Flats etc. looking to catch people out.

 

I cant say for sure, but I suspect that things like insurance might refuse to pay out if you rent "illegally", so you could find yourself in hot water if the building burns down or whatever.

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I can just see it now, the army of Beamte trawling airBnB and 9Flats etc. looking to catch people out.

Why not.. I'm sure they already do it.. I'm sure I've heard about the tax office in France doing the same as well.

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you'd be hard-pressed to argue that your holiday flat rental serves the public good.

 

I know what you mean, but I think 4 or 5 tourist families a month bring more to the city than a stable "artist" tenant. You can argue those tourists can just go to a hotel, but in reality many will just not come to Berlin and go somewhere else instead.

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Not only that but didn't Berlin introduce a tourist tax recently on hotel and holiday flats? So one law introduces an income stream and the other takes it away. Plus holiday flat renters are supposed to pay 7% VAT on the rental. So I think the public good argument is not so solid but the populist angle is. Nobody likes high rents except for the owners... And voters will definitely see this law as benefiting them although that is not so clear.

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Thank god for this ban. Please, more of it. Everything that somehow decimates the pub crawl hordes and the EasyJetset kids who consider Kreuzberg their personal Disneyland.

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but we're not talking about some other city. We are talking about Berlin, a city that for a number of reasons has become a place where foreigners can afford to, and profit richly from, buying up property and renting it out to other foreigners in such a way and at such a rate that it poses a real threat to the number of affordable apartments there are within the city limits for people who actually live here, which, according to the article, is lawmakers' main concern.

 

I don't know if that is a problem in the cities I have visited or plan to visit. I have a hard time imagining the specific factors which apply in Berlin apply everywhere, especially the price of property and how sought-after short-term accommodation is.

 

I have never used airbnb etc. in this or any other city. " ;) "

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I don't know the statistics about how many units are available for rent -v- how many are available as short term holiday lettings. I know there are 0/12 in my building in Nord Neukölln. I get the feeling this is an issue that only affects a couple of the boroughs of the city and a blanket ban on Ferienwohnungen would be a huge overreaction. I doubt many flats in Hellersdorf or Gropiusstadt etc. are to be found on AirBnB.

 

I am generally quite skeptical of politicians' motives as I believe their overriding concern is getting re-elected.

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I'm sure you're right that the majorly affected areas are in more centrally located and for whatever reason more desirable neighborhoods. Being skeptical of the motivations of politicians is clever for the reason you stated and more.

 

While banning holiday flats everywhere in the city may be, as you put it, a "huge" overreaction (or as I would put it, applying a blanket solution to a localized problem), decision-makers, whether crooked or honest, have little choice but to work within their administrative borders. Not to mention that nobody wants to be the neighborhood the problem spills over into. So you ban holiday flats in Friedrichshain but allow them in Lichtenberg (if that were even possible), right so, they'll all be in Lichtenberg.

 

I think the message they are sending is clear and it is one I support: living space is for living, and permanent residents are no less entitled to affordable rents in desirable quarters than holiday makers are to pay a month's rent to sleep in them for a week, or single property owners to enjoy high profit margins from by disproportionately occupying. I for one applaud not only the "overreaction" to the matter but also the attempt to take action before it is too late. It is groundbreaking stuff in my opinion. I come from a place where we were sold out (numerous times) by our state and municipal governments to make a buck increase profitability (including but not limited to building a major sports stadium we voted down three times)--not that the city was broke, on the contrary--because the idea that "fair" equals handing over anything requested by the highest bidder is seen to be the natural order of things. I am happy to see that here, it is not invariably the case.

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Without accurate statistics for the number of holiday lettings -v- number of units currently available for rent I think this discussion is pointless and I dare say the city has no such statistics. It's all anecdotal.

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