When you hire a house at Airbnb, you are professional

Renting rooms or flats over the Internet has become a lucrative and rapidly growing activity in the past. This is a new form of entrepreneurship that the pioneering Airbnb website actively supports. But what is the profile of those who give their apartments or their rooms to rent? Is it mostly for individuals, as was the original idea of ​​the whole venture, or is it no longer? "Wonders Deutsche Welle (DW) and presents the research done with international cooperation through information


Large journalistic search for rentals via Airbnb

A major journalistic inquiry from the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, in collaboration with a Belgian De Tijd reporter, the French Le Monde and the Dutch Trouw, analyzed 37,000 accommodation offers via the Airbnb platform in the ten largest German cities. According to the findings of the survey, 1,290 owners offered more than one apartment for rent throughout Germany, a practice that has caused serious shocks especially in small and medium-sized neighborhood hotels. Also about 58% of all offers concerned rental of apartments or even entire residential complexes, which means that behind them are professional brokers. At the same time, the offers for single rooms shared with the owners' apartments accounted for only 2% of the total.
Some apartment rental companies, such as Homeren Immobilien, based in Cologne, record a profit of € 4.5 million through the exploitation of Airbnb's capabilities. It is also interesting to note that many of these companies mislead their offerings as if they were made by private individuals who rented their own homes.
Also, new start-up companies have emerged in the marketplace, playing the role of intermediary, taking over the view and management of apartments on behalf of private owners. What makes brokers like to do is to actually advertise the apartments through Airbnb, give tenants the keys or even clean the apartments after the end of the lease.

Important changes to the short-term rental model

However, Airbnb told SZ that the model  is promoting  "home sharing". In practice, however, the platform seems to promote "professionalism" in this new "cohabitation" model, by introducing standardized practices eg. Specific check-in times. Deutsche Welle also contacted Airbnb, which was reported on the journalistic inquiry in question: "The data is wrong. The survey uses the wrong methodology to come up with precarious conclusions. Airbnb has always been a platform that promotes different types of rental, including boutique hotel up to bed and breakfast options.
The vast majority of users are people who share their homes, individuals who occasionally rent a room or their entire apartment when they are missing out on a business trip or living between two cities. "Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Cologne has the largest Airbnb offers per day, with 1,154 bookings to a total of 100,000 residents. On the other hand, Berlin is the city with the most offers to Airbnb as a whole. With 38,500 accommodations, the Berlin Airbnb is the leader in short-term leases. Overall, the tourism industry in the German capital offers 139,000 beds in the evening.

The problem of Berlin

However, there are strong reactions to Airbnb in Germany. The Berlin local government considers it to be under control, having already passed a law banning the commercial exploitation of holiday homes since 2014. The same law also prohibits the demolition or abandonment of dwellings which are not foreseen to be exploited within six months.
Berlin, like most German cities, faces a serious lack of affordable housing. Despite the regulations, rents in the German capital are rising by almost 10% per annum. "The fact that renting through Airbnb or other networks is moving in the upward direction, and the fact that it has not only been a matter of co-habitation for a short time, is a development that we know and that is why we have imposed a ban on this, among others" Katherine Dittle, spokesman for the local government in Berlin. "We believe that the law we voted on is compatible with the German Constitution and will insist on its implementation," she says.

In the meantime, 60 officials in Berlin have been charged with monitoring the implementation of this legislation and imposing fines on offenders. Of course there is the other side. Many homeowners in Berlin who rent short-lived apartments by e-mail are of the view that restrictions such as those in Berlin are in the final violation of the right to property. As noted by e.g. Maria Becker, spokesman for Haus & Grund Owners Association: "Many of our members own seven apartments on average. This does not make them big companies. "
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