Home Sharing in Berlin

Two years ago, Berlin introduced a complicated and confusing new housing law. Since then, we’ve worked hard to encourage the government to provide clarity on the situation. Under the rules, many Airbnb hosts can continue to share their space, but the government’s attempt to clarify how the law will be implemented has only made the situation more confusing.

In recent weeks, government officials have made a series of conflicting and confusing statements, including that Berliners can:

  • Share space in their homes, as long as they don’t accept money
  • Share spare rooms in their homes
  • Share up to 50 percent of their home with guests
  • Share their homes, providing they don’t remove housing from the market.

We’ve long been concerned that the confusing rules are bad for Berlin and the many thousands of regular Berliners who share their homes to pay the bills, and we aren’t alone. Numerous independent experts, politicians and local residents have come forward to raise concerns about Berlin’s confusing law:

  • The former president of the Berlin Constitutional Court says the housing law is unconstitutional, unreasonable and not fit for purpose – more here.
  • The Free Democrats have called on the State Senate to abolish the housing law, saying it is disproportionate and will have no impact on housing in Berlin – more here.
  • Independent housing experts GEWOS said: “The tiny fraction of homes listed on Airbnb is far too small to have any significant impact on the availability of housing in Berlin. The tense housing market is a complex problem that is being driven by migration and a lack of new homes being built – not people sharing their homes through Airbnb.” – more here

Going forward, we want to work with everyone in Berlin on some clear, fair rules that allow people to share their homes – whether a spare room or the entire place when the host is out of town. Both help make efficient use of space and boost economic opportunities for local residents and their communities.

To help achieve that goal, we recently shared new data to help the Senate understand our community in Berlin. It shows that Airbnb hosts are regular people who occasionally share their homes to pay the bills and stay in their homes:

  • The typical Airbnb hosts in Berlin earns an additional €1,800 a year by sharing their space – either a spare room or the entire place when out of town – for 34 nights a year
  • 56 percent of Airbnb hosts in Berlin earn below the city’s median household income
  • Almost three quarters of all Airbnb listings in Berlin are rented for fewer than 90 days
  • Almost three quarters of Airbnb hosts in Berlin share their primary residence
  • Hosts spend almost half the additional income they make by sharing their space on regular household expenses.

While the new rules are confusing, what is clear is that Airbnb is good news for Berlin. It democratises travel and spreads benefits to more families, communities and local businesses. And we hear from countless Berliners who couldn’t afford their homes or the city if they could not share their home.

We look forward to collaborating on progressive measures that let Berliners share and protect the city’s vital housing stock. Major European cities like Paris and Amsterdam have already passed clear fair rules for home sharing and we look forward to working on similar proposals in Berlin.