Comment apartments: give up the data

Berlin must not give in to the lobbying of Airbnb and Co. The vacation rental portals must be forced to cooperate.

Whoever gets that key: Berlin must know Photo: dpa

Actually, the matter is quite simple: if a billion-dollar corporation rages without ceasing against a ban that it never intended to comply with anyway, it is a matter of urgently preserving the ban. So if the vacation rental portal Airbnb has been lobbying ad nauseam for years to ensure that its customers are allowed to rent out their apartments in their entirety and not just part of them, politicians should say loud and clear: No!

Now the situation is such that Berlin’s politicians will probably say at least YES. The amendment to the law prohibiting the misappropriation of residential property, which is planned for May 2018, envisages not only permitting the renting out of less than 50 percent of owner-occupied residential space in future, but also legalizing the offering of one’s own home for 60 days a year. However, it is not clear whether the revised law will be a success for the globally operating group and its equally penetrating competitors.

So far, despite the ban, the city’s vacation rental industry is booming. More and more offers, more and more hotel-like apartments from more and more professional providers. The current law is not sufficient here. It does not prevent second homes from being offered legally and year-round as vacation rentals; it does not force the corporations to disclose their data.

Only superficially was the law in its previous form uncompromising; in fact, it leaves numerous back doors open. In the CDU, which once passed it together with the SPD, they are probably still quietly laughing up their sleeves about not having restricted capital interests too much.

The current law leaves many loopholes open

With the revision, there is now a chance to clear up the mistakes made at the time. The most important thing: The vacation rental portals must be forced, without any ifs and buts, to pass on data about hosts, addresses and the number of nights rented out to the authorities. This is the only way to control a 60-day rule.

In addition, tough penalties are needed if companies list illegal offers on their sites. Both would be a clear no in their direction. If that happens, a yes would also be acceptable, allowing Berliners to rent out their own apartments during the vacation season in the future. However, 30 days would also be enough for this.