Since 2014, the so-called Repurposing Act (Zweckentfremdungsgesetz) has been in force in Berlin. The aim of this legislation is to ensure that apartments are used for standard tenancies only. This is to prevent apartments from being withdrawn from the conventional rental accommodation market and to make it easier for tenants to find housing. Since the law came into force, a permit is required before an apartment can be repurposed, e.g. as a holiday home.
The act has been amended in numerous ways over the years with the intention of making it more effective. In 2018, an amendment came into force that requires providers of holiday apartments to join a register. The registration number is designed to make it possible to distinguish between legitimate and unregistered providers on websites and in print media. This new regulation has not proved very successful to date.
In order to further tighten the legislation, the Berlin Senate has already approved a further amendment (16 February 2021). The Berlin House of Representatives is currently deliberating on the resolution of this amendment. The aim of the amendment is to prevent websites and print media that advertise holiday apartments from publishing any adverts that do not feature a registration number.
It must be expected that the Berlin authorities will waste no time in seeking out the unregistered providers of holiday apartments. Depending on the severity of the breach, fines of up to EUR 500,000 are possible.
A verdict by the Berlin Administrative Court (Az. VG 6 K 90/20) might assist the authorities in this. On 23 June 2021, the court ruled that online platforms can be obligated to hand over the details of providers in cases of suspected illegal repurposing. An advert with no registration number could provide the grounds for such suspicion, and websites must then disclose the details of the provider/owner/landlord.
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