A Berlin court has upheld a city regulation that renders short-time home rentals in the German capital illegal, in a ruling with ramifications for home rental firms like Airbnb. Ivor Bennett reports.
Berlin is not a city one can easily accuse of not embracing change. But there is one aspect over which it remains divided. Short-term lets like this are common in the German capital. But they are also illegal. A court today upholding a ban that means anyone renting out their homes for less than two months could be fined up to 100,000 euros. (SOUNDBITE) (German) STEPHAN LA BARRE, OWNER OF PRIVATE RENTALS WEBSITE BERLINLOFTS, SAYING: "Everything we have built up has been completely destroyed. Other people can sell their business if they have run it well and it is successful, but through this lack of protection our businesses have become worthless." It's no surprise the courtroom was packed. This was the first challenge of its kind in Europe. And one, industry giant AirBnb confirmed it was watching closely. The company lists nearly 12,000 apartments in Berlin City authorities estimate smaller competitors add another 3,000. The judge agreeing with their assessment that affordable housing is under threat. The ruling comes only a week after a caution from the European Commission. That decades-old laws shouldn't be used to enforce bans against the shared economy of the future. But for now at least, this is one change too far for Berlin.