Berlin to ban "repurposing" of living space

86 posts in this topic

 

perhaps even suspends or at least reduces the number of freelance permits issued.

 

Not sure what this means. Surely a freelancer should not be a problem, if they have work, they bring money to the city, can pay their rent, tax and buy stuff locally - all good stuff. So I don't understand the concept of "freelancer permits". Now if there is some technical document people can get that lets them get social payments without contributing or actually finding freelance work, that is a different situation and should not be allowed to happen, and I would agree with controlling that. However if lots of people want to come to Berlin, and bring their diverse skills with them, and put those skills to good use - I'm all for that, and cant't see a problem.

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Airbnb became popular in New York at least partially because it helped people struggling to make rent. These people stand to lose out in the case of such a ban, hotel groups stand to gain. I understand that the average Berlin resident is not looking to spend every weekend on another's sofa in order to subsidize their living costs just yet, but the fact remains - this ban favors the hotel industry.

 

I honesty do not believe that the Berlin government is doing this in order to relieve the lack of cheap rented accommodation in desirable districts. I believe they are doing this to protect the revenue of the hotel industry. They are doing this to protect established big business from smaller, local competitors, and in the case of NYC - those who struggle with the sky-high living costs in "that capital of socialism".

 

That you would be glad to get rid of those pesky kids is merely a side effect which is favorable to you.

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I totally agree with El Jeffo. I own a flat in the Nth Western part of Wedding. One can't really say that this would be a so-called "desired" or trendy area. On the contrary, it is lower middle class with many working class people and poor immigrants. Still, in our house with a total of ca. 28 flats, at least 9 are being rented out as holiday apartments. A disaster! Unfortunately, this did not begin until we had already been here for over 2 years, so we had no way of forseeing this development. All flats surrounding ours are being used that way...it is, at least 30% to 50% of the time, completely horrific. Noise, trash, excessive wear and tear of common areas. Also, as El Jeffo stated, we have no way of solving this problem ourselves, as, up to now, it has been lawful for them to do so.

I also do not want to move. Otherwise, we like living here...we love our apartment, have built our own infrastructure in this neighborhood and have met many very nice natives, so to speak. I would MUCH rather have "normal" (direct)neighbors with whom I could have some kind of relationship, and, solve problems if/when they arise. I also constantly see hordes of students and so-called hipsters with their suitcases walking around this area...which tells me that many flats here are being used in the same manner. It is no wonder that "normal" citizens can't find an affordable flat within the city.

I believe I'll send flowers to whoever introduced this legislation.

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I lived in Paris for over 8 year so I can comment on how short+term rentals to tourists has dramatically reduced the availability of housing for French students and people liing in the capital in general.

 

New laws are also being enforced in Paris... the most visited tourist city in the world...in order to stop people from making a living renting apartments to tourists.

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Does anyone know yet how the ban would apply to living spaces in which the owner or listed tenant also uses as a primary residence?

 

The NYC law - which I truly hope Berlin does not replicate - prohibits you from even renting out a room in your own flat, eliminating one of the few ways people struggling in a tough economy to cover their own housing costs can leverage their assets to make ends meet.

 

Personally, I began hosting on Airbnb a year ago, when my rent was raised by 12% (needless to say, my wages haven't increased accordingly). I was lucky enough to have a small extra room, typically used by visiting friends and family, that was desirable enough as short-term accommodation that I was able to get a couple of guests per month. As a freelancer with an unstable income, this was a godsend; I was able to weather some of the harder months financially and absorb the shock of rising rents. Were I to stop using Airbnb, my apartment would continue to be primarily a residential space - it never stopped being one - but a larger share of my income would be going to the massive Italian corporation that owns my building, rather than into the local goods and services that I can now afford to patronize. Additionally, I'd have a much harder time covering the cost of visiting my family overseas if it weren't possible to sublet my flat while I'm away.

 

I can definitely appreciate the frustrations of people whose buildings seem to have been taken over by foreign investors renting out to nothing but tourists, and I can imagine the sense of vindication they might feel from the proposed ban. However, in practice, I seriously doubt that it would yield a tangible increase in affordable housing stocks, and it certainly wouldn't generate a new revenue stream to offset the costs of enforcing it. More likely, you'd wind up with more holiday rentals shifting from taxable to black-market, or sitting vacant until the market is optimal for selling. Additionally, with a downward pressure on hotel prices relieved, new properties that could be developed for residential use would become more favorable for hotels, which provide zero potential living space. It seems to me that the politicians are exploiting the current moment of anti-tourist sentiment rather than considering constructive legislation that might actually benefit locals, such as:

 

- Targeting the stagnant wages and high unemployment that make it so difficult for Berliners to afford market-rate rents in the first place

- Introducing an additional Hotel Tax to all short-term accommodation, including holiday apartments

- Setting price controls for nightly rentals in residential buildings so that they don't exceed the market value of monthly rent (hotels would HATE that, of course - how could they compete?)

- Demanding that all new property developments contribute a share of their space to affordable housing units.

 

I completely share the frustrations of everyone who's sick of their city being bought up by people who don't even live here. But I don't see the point of the animosity toward tourists. Fact is, we're in one of the most interesting cities on Earth, and they're not going to put any more thought into the impact of their visit on our housing prices than we do when we go on vacation. When they stay in budget rooms in mixed/residential neighborhoods, they are far likelier to find and support the local establishments that we value, at a much more frequent rate than busy locals are able to. When they stay in chain hotels in Mitte, they spend most of their money at chains that we'd rather pretend don't exist here. And lest we forget, among the short-term denizens, we also have all the future Berliners who arrived here the same way we (as a community of expats) all did, who could benefit greatly from a cheap place to land without the huge expense and responsibility of a rent contract.

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The NY law has sparked a huge internet debate this week, spawning what I think is the most reasonable set of insights and policy recommendations, from the Sustainable Economies Law Center.

 

Required reading for everyone interested in the topic: My link

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Interesting opinion piece, with interesting examples (the host is a teacher and the no-host guys volunteer their vacation time... In Rwanda? Puh-leeze), but not applicable to Berlin IMHO. They don't address the vacation rental scenario at all, aside from a casual mention, and also assume that the other two variants shouldn't be used for profiteering - but that is exactly what is happening in Berlin. Thousands of apartments have been taken off the long-term rental market and repurposed as holiday rentals, specifically because it is more profitable for their owners to do so.

 

Instead of making expensive housing more affordable, which is the professed aim of the paper, it has the exact opposite effect: it's actually driving rising rents because the housing supply decreases as long-term rental housing is taken off the market.

 

I still think the proposed law is a good idea.

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There are only estimations about the number of short-term-rental/holiday apartments in Berlin. One side( owners association) claims that there are not more than 3.000.- the other side, among them the hotel industry, claims a number of more than 10.000.

 

Now lets assume that the truth lies in the middle. That would be about 7.000 apartments which are reseved for tourists and which aren't available anymore for citizens of this town.

That's the living space for about 10.000. A whole small town. And without a legal limit to this in some years this number could increase ,maybe even double.

 

Time to put an end to this. Venice e.g. has lost a good percentage of its original inhabitants. A city which has become a dead facade. Shop owners, craftsmen etc, all live outside and commute every day . Same goes for certain "quartiers" of Paris. Silly, sick.

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The numbers are much higher. According to this article, a survey by the Berliner MieterGemeinschaft (Berlin tenants' association) in 2012 estimated more than 12,000 apartments are being used for holiday rentals. I believe Dehoga argues 17,000-19,000.

 

And the average occupancy isn't 1.5 - it's more in the range of 3-4 (the place on the ground floor of our building "officially" sleeps 10, because the owners would be regulated as a hotel if it slept 12, but I've regularly counted parties of up to 18 walking out the door). So potential living space for 35,000-50,000 people or more. A full medium-sized city.

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Venice e.g. has lost a good percentage of its original inhabitants. A city which has become a dead facade. Shop owners, craftsmen etc, all live outside and commute every day . Same goes for certain "quartiers" of Paris. Silly, sick.

 

 

 

... and shop owners, craftmen etc. all live off Venice's tourists. The city would be bankrupt without them.

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... and shop owners, craftmen etc. all live off Venice's tourists. The city would be bankrupt without them.

 

No one is suggesting banning tourism.

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The law won't hinder anyone to temporarely sublet their apartment to no matter whom while being absent for a holiday e.g. As long as you yourself are registered on this apartment at the city , Erstwohnsitz.

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Wow. I just remembered why I stopped visiting this site.

 

But you just had to check back one more time, right? <_<

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with all due respect, sockmonster, I find it really difficult to cry you a river. Here's why:...

 

I wonder what you would say if you were in his shoes.

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One point you've got is that I am indeed glad I'm not in his shoes. That said, I am not judging his shoes, rather, I am judging his putting on a pair that anybody could predict wouldn't last him long and then blaming somebody/anybody else when they fall apart.

 

Renting out a room for tourists is an option; however, it is not the only option. If I were in his shoes I would probably take in a permanent roommate to split half the bills and refrain from complaining publicly about potentially losing the source of untaxed income to which I feel I am entitled.

 

But as you rightly imply, I am not in his shoes. Who knows what I would say were I to be. I like to think I would not have put on those shoes in the first place, but that's always easy to say, I suppose. So far such shoes have never seemed to me to be a good idea.

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Berlin is a big place. This proposed legislation is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Example: Lots of people from former communist East European states have connections to folks in Marzahn, Lichtenberg, Hellersdorf etc. I know such people. They would often use Ferienwohnungen as a cost effective solution to (almost) non existent hotels out there. Berlin is more than Mitte & Kreuzberg. If there are specific problems in specific areas then they should be addressed in a more clinical manner. A blanket ban will have effects that many of you seem unaware of, including making family visits for folks in the places I mentioned simply unaffordable.

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The new law isn't a sledgehammer. It can be applied or not be applied, depending on the situation in the different districts . The law rules simply that you need a permission from the city if you want to transform your apartment into a business space. Could be allowed in Köpenick, could be not allowed in Wilmersdorf.

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Saw this in the link someone posted earlier

 

 

 

 

Creating local wealth: Enabling short-term renting will also infuse a substantial amount of money into the local community. A significant portion of this country’s hotels are owned by one of 12 large hotel conglomerates. This means that when a traveler pays $200 to stay at an absentee-owned hotel in San Francisco, for example, a significant portion of that $200 will leave San Francisco and is less likely to be re-invested in the local community. By contrast, if a traveler pays $200 to a local resident to stay in that resident’s spare bedroom, the entire $200 goes to a member of the local community, and remains available to re-circulate within the city. Local businesses may also benefit when tourists spend less on hotel rooms, because travelers who save money on overnight stays may be more likely to spend in local restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

Really this is as someone else mention is blow back against the shared economy, and it makes sense why established businesses would fight against this, they perceive it as losing customers. In the end I think airbnb will stay but subject to more regulations.

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