Airbnb apartments in Berlin: Districts collect fines of 1.5 million euros


Last year, 13.5 million tourists came to Berlin – a record, again. Many of them do not just want to look at classical sights like the Brandenburg Gate or the Museum Island. Often, a trip to Germany's capital is also about living in neighborhoods like Kreuzberg or Mitte. The neighborhoods have long been attractions for themselves.

What still causes tensions: Many tourists book in apartments, which are therefore no longer available to the normal housing market. Hosts who do not officially register their accommodation and get caught are financially prosecuted since the summer of last year. But does that happen too?

A year after the introduction of fines for the rental of illegal apartments in Berlin, the city takes stock: For more than 250 hosts, the districts have imposed fines, while 1.5 million euros were taken.

The largest total was in the trendy district Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg together with around 950,000 euros. The highest fines imposed Lichtenberg and Steglitz-Zehlendorf with peak values ​​of 37,500 euros. The amount of the fine depends on the economic benefit of the householder. On average, they had to transfer about 6000 euros.

Anyone who leases without required registration or approval must expect fines of up to € 500,000 in Berlin since August 2018. However, this maximum amount has not been achieved by far.

Because the rents in the city are rising sharply, the Senate regulates the market for apartments – so that more apartments can be rented permanently to Berlin. The problem exists in many metropolises worldwide – from Amsterdam to Paris and Lisbon to New York.

If you want to sublet your rented or condominium apartment to holidaymakers or business people at times, you need a permit from the district. If you only offer a room for guests, you do not need it, but you do need a registration number. It must be stated on the rental portals and help the authorities enforce the rules.

The districts with the most apartments

The number of registered accommodations has increased in the past year. Almost 1900 apartments are approved by the districts, awarded around 3000 registration numbers, most in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Mitte. However, according to earlier estimates by the Senate, there were at least 20,000 apartments or rooms rented for holiday purposes in the city.

In Tempelhof-Schöneberg, for example, where 243 apartments have been approved, the district office assumes up to 1,200 illegal apartments. Several city councils criticize that they lack enforcement rights against platforms such as Airbnb. In addition, there are not enough staff for controls.

“The possibility of tracking down illegal vacation rentals has not increased significantly,” criticized Ramona Reiser, councilor for citizen services in the district of Mitte. The platform operators who have headquarters and servers abroad do not have to disclose user data. “Contrary to, inter alia, Airbnb often offered cooperation, this is not recognizable in the approach,” lamented Pankow Vice-Mayor Vollrad Kuhn.

Housing protection is possible

Airbnb contradicted the criticism from Berlin. You should not pass on any data. In Munich, the company therefore takes legal action against a corresponding ordinance of the city.

Effective housing protection is possible, however, stressed an Airbnb spokeswoman. This shows the example of Hamburg. Landlords have also had to register their apartments there since April, but online and free of charge. Only with the number can the hosts advertise. Berlin has been offering such a solution for two years now. By contrast, the capital city's path is bureaucratic, unclear and not digital.

“So far, only limited Internet research could be done,” said Reinickendorf. You do not have enough people for that. The outskirts district has not imposed any fine since last August. 48 apartments are approved there – but the authority estimates that there are 300.


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