Berlin to ban "repurposing" of living space

86 posts in this topic

I live in Friedrichshain on Simon-Dach-Str, so can say that while I personally welcome a mix of residents and tourism that supports the neighborhood, I prefer to live in a residence not a hotel.

 

As someone who has done couchsurfing, I also welcome the idea of hospitality and occasional "I'm out of town anyway, so rent my flat you Berlinale visitor" but only when it's fair to all involved. The person who buys into a residence for the purpose of turning it into unofficial commercial space is cheating the tax office, the neighbors, and the legitimate hospitality industry.

 

That said, I'm not in favor of a ban. The practice is too widespread and accepted. I favor regulation instead. How many owners in a residence should be welcome to repurpose the space for commercial purposes? What should they need to provide to the other residents to ensure their sense of stability, safety, and comfort? How should that be disclosed to potential buyers looking at a residence? What are the rights of and restrictions on renters? Etc.

 

This last question really gets me. I'm sorry, fellow renter, but I'm pretty sure your lease does not allow you to extend lease agreements, short-term or long-term, to others without the express permission of the owner. Even for the Berlinale visitor.

 

Edited to add in response to the freelancer comment: I run a business as a freelancer and my living spaces and income are taxed accordingly. We're regulated and visible, thank you.

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I can see this having an effect, but how big, I do not know. It will presumably deter some investors trying to stash their Euros somewhere safe without having to do battle with the laws for long term rentals (if you bought a flat now, knowing that it cannot be used as a holiday let, then you would have to rent it out. You then get the hassle of looking after the rental and it will not be as easy to get what you paid for an empty flat as you would probably have to sell it occupied, which hits the value and means that you would probably not be able to get your hands on the money so quickly). The large number of flats which over the next 2 years would have to be turned back into long term residencies is quite high, but is it enough to dampen the demand for rentals? or will more flats be sold and perhaps dampen the sale price increases?

 

I also get the feeling that once the Eurozone is stable once again, and heaven forbid starts to recover, then there will be a bit of an exodus which may help as well. About 2/3rds of immegrants I know are either here for a short time to study etc, or would happily go back to sunnier climes given the chance. Or perhaps this influx is here to stay?

 

Lets hope the pressure drops off the housing market so we can all find somewhere nice and at the right price again eh?

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Regarding taxation, I absolutely agree that holiday rentals and in-home lodging arrangements should be subject to tax. The thing is, like so many of the legally vague transactions in the so-called "sharing economy," developing a workable taxation system would require adapting laws to the reality of how people are using technology. Very few people, if any, report their earnings when they sell furniture on Craigslist or charge for rides on Mitfahrgelegenheit, even though such peer-to-peer transactions are cutting into the revenue stream that would otherwise be generated by conventional commerce. In practice, it's unclear at what point a shared cost becomes pure profit. If you're the alpha tenant in a WG, do you consider the rent paid by your flatmates to be income? And after how long of a stay in your house does a lodger become a flatmate?

 

The most sensible approach I've seen so far has come from San Francisco, which has mandated that Airbnb and other short-term rental hosts pay the same 14% Hotel Tax on their bookings that hotels are required to charge. It's a higher premium than may be necessary in Berlin (San Francisco is an incredibly tiny and dense city with a much more dramatic shortage of vacancies than we could ever expect to have here), but in theory, it's an unambiguous regulation that can be easily enforced. Airbnb already adds VAT to its European bookings, so it seems perfectly reasonable for a city to demand that they attach a hotel tax to its local bookings at the point of sale (though they're deservedly under fire in SF for failing to do so there - massive fail).

 

Additionally, I think a clear and thoughtful set of regulations under which compliant short-term hosts could operate openly rather than grey-market could potentially benefit hosts, guests, and neighbors alike. Buying up residential property and turning it into dodgy, illegal hotels is a practice that cities have very good reason to stop, and hosts and sublettors should be held just as responsible for the safety of their guests and the quality-of-life of their neighbors as licensed hotels would be.

 

Given that the proposed ban hasn't appeared on the current parliamentary agenda, it's questionable whether any change is going to occur anytime soon. And that's a shame; while I think a sweeping ban would be a missed opportunity for progressive reform, we obviously need to increase our affordable housing stocks, and the only new properties I see going up are exclusive luxury condos, which nobody seems to be trying to ban.

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Hello,

 

I've been hearing a lot about the zweckentfremdungsverbot lately and I have a question regarding renting one's own apartment to tourists.

 

I own my apartment here in Berlin and it is my primary residence. When go away on vacation, I usually rent it out to visitors using Airbnb. I rent it out about 4 times a year- usually for periods of one or two weeks at a time. (Although last year I rented it for two months straight to one tenant). The rest of the time (the majority of the year) I live in the apartment.

 

My neighbour below hates having strangers in the building and insists that it is against the law for me to rent out my place. She has threatened to pursue legal action unless I leave it empty when I travel. I understand that a law was just passed that forbids renters from subletting their flats to tourists without their landlord's approval. I've also heard that apartments that are strictly 'ferienwohnungen' are not allowed in Berlin. But how does it work for someone like me who owns their own apartment and rents it out occasionally? Is there a specific amount of time that I must live in the apartment vs. renting it out, that would effect the status of my apartment? Is there a specific time-frame that makes a rental a 'vacation rental' vs. an ordinary rental? Any help would be appreciated, or if anyone can tell me where to find the relevant legal information (or a good lawyer) I would be very grateful!

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Philip

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As long as you are registered at your place as first residence(Erstwohnsitz) you can, of course , rent out your place to tourists,just as you could rent it out to anybody or sublet a room in you place, or have a friend from Whereever living there for some time. Etc etc.

 

Your neighbour is wrong, and what she likes or not doesn't matter. Tell her to mind her own business.

 

One thing : Rental income is tax - relevant. Better don't forget to declare it (at least some of it)

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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.

 

If there is no need for them, then why do they exist? Have fun trying to find a hotel room in Hamburg after 8pm on a Friday night.

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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.

 

That's good. People sub-let apartments and offer rooms for rent all over the world. I don't understand why people think this should be a crime.

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People sub-let apartments and offer rooms for rent all over the world. I don't understand why people think this should be a crime.

 

Maybe you're just getting your English confused, but to be precise in most cases SUB-letting is not permitted without permission from the landlord. If you are a tenant it's not your property to rent out.

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Maybe you're just getting your English confused, but to be precise in most cases SUB-letting is not permitted without permission from the landlord. If you are a tenant it's not your property to rent out.

 

If its ok with the tenant and its ok with the landlord, then what's the problem?

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Thanks Sosarx,

 

That's such a relief to hear. My neighbour sent me a letter two days ago stating that "vor einigen Tagen ist in Berlin ein Urteil

gefallen: man darf eigene Wohnung nicht an Feriengäste oder fremde Menschen vermieten, weil das immer eine Belastung für

die Nachbarn ist." Was there such a ruling? Or is she just making this up? Do you know if there's a website where I can read up on the specifics of the apartment laws in Berlin? Thanks again for your help!

 

Philip

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If its ok with the tenant and its ok with the landlord, then what's the problem?

 

*IF* it's OK with the landlord then there is no problem. However most landlords understandably aren't OK about it and specifically forbid it in the contract. So you need to check the contract and if necessary speak with the landlord before unilaterally deciding to rent out someone else's property.

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She has probably read about this new law, passed in Now 2013:

 

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/berlin-bans-short-term-vacation-apartments-for-tourists-a-935085.html

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@philp.

 

Right now I'm too busy to make a deeper search, but the following link has some information about the subject.Maybe I'll come back later with more.

 

You could ask your neighbour to provide you with more details about the alleged court ruling anyway.

 

http://www.blum-hanke.de/aktuelles_mietrecht5.html

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I can consider myself VERY lucky to have arrived in Berlin with a 1-month airbnb apartment in Mitte to serve as my temporary housing and even be able to do the anmeldung with that address (the name of the vermieter didn't even match the name on the mailbox, we didn't even have a proper contract, just the regular airbnb receipt).

 

That was august 2013. good luck to students arriving in summer 2014.

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We just did the same thing: moved into one AirBnB, stayed a week, and then moved into two other AirBnBs near my job until our apartment was ready and we'd bought our first few sticks of furniture. I have no idea what we would have done short of having friends in the city who could put us up for nearly 3 weeks, or spending a fortune to live a miserable life in a cheap hotel.

 

As far as we can tell, both of the places we stayed in are owned/rented by people who live long-term somewhere else but wanted to keep their apartment in case of contingencies, and let it out through AirBnB on the side to pay the expenses of keeping a second place. Personally I don't care why the people who list their places on AirBnB do so, and I'm not sure that it's the government's business either.

 

If the government discourages long-term subtenancy by disadvantaging head tenants and landlords under the law, can it really be surprised when people choose other options to let out their spare apartments and spare rooms?

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[adminmerge][/adminmerge]

I've had an apartment for 6 years and to cover the service charges I've done some holiday rentals but now I understand this May be illegal. Does anyone have any updated info on the subject?

 

1. Can I register?

2. How to register?

 

Much appreciated

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I just skimmed this thread but am curious if this might be an initiative from the hotels.

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