Berlin is one of the European cities where the holiday rental website Airbnb and others most flourished over the last few years. The lack of affordable accommodation, the growing popularity of the German capital with young tourists and families in particular as well as tough rent control measures fostered both demand for and supply of Berlin holiday rentals.
Unfortunately, the local government has toughened its stance on rent control even further, and is cracking down on holiday rentals, allegedly in order to make more apartments available for locals looking to rent long term (a typical case where additional regulation is used as a way to mask the government’s own past failures, such as the fact that not enough has been built over the last years and that existing rent control measures are a key reason behind the lack of housing supply).
But what does this mean for Airbnb Berlin landlords?
For landlords, it means that your Airbnb holiday rental may become illegal or already is illegal if you have not applied for a license with the local council (Bezirksamt) or if it is not your own apartment (your main residence) where you live and which you just occasionally happen to rent out.
Should you not obtain a license for your Berlin holiday rental, you have several options:
1. You could take the apartment listing off Airbnb or wherever else you list it, and find a long-term tenant. However, you will no longer get the same level of rental income, and you will have little to no control over how long the tenant stays in the flat, considering German rental regulation.
2. You could keep the apartment as an Airbnb short-term rental, but it is very likely that your listing is no longer legal. Whilst many other landlords (or tenants subletting their apartment via Airbnb) seem to do this, you run a risk of being fined. Not recommended!
3. You could sell the apartment – prices have risen quite significantly over the last years, hence you will, very likely, have made a profit. However, if you have owned it for less than 10 years, the profit will be taxable.
4. You could make it a medium-term rental – it is still legal to rent the apartment for two months or more, without all the restrictions of long-term rentals.
What changes for Airbnb holidaymakers in Berlin?
For holiday makers, the risk is that supply of rentals decreases and that prices therefore increase. If you book a holiday rental, it may or may not be legal, but even staying at an illegal one won’t be seen as an offence. There is just a risk that, between the time you book and you travel, that your host may have to take to take the flat off Airbnb as they become of the risk of listing it illegally. Therefore, you may want to find out at about how your host operates at the time you book, and reconfirm the rental again a couple of weeks before you travel.
Most importantly, make sure you find the right host with a flat fitting your needs – and no regulatory restriction will be able to spoil your upcoming Berlin holiday!
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, or planning to visit – or move to – Berlin, please feel free to contact us.