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Eviction doesn't scare Berlin Airbnb hosts

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A screenshot of the Airbnb website.
11:03 CET+01:00
Airbnb users in Berlin told The Local that they wouldn't be put off the service, despite a court deciding that landlords could evict tenants who use it to sublet their apartments.

"I still do it. I don't think it will stop people. There are so many hosts in Berlin and worldwide“, said Emma Freeman, a freelance artist.

"Plus Berlin is so anonymous, I don't think my landlord will find out.“

In a recent decision, the state court of Berlin reinforced earlier rulings that subletting a rented apartment on Airbnb constituted such a "severe breach of contract“ that a landlord could not reasonably be expected to continue the contract until the period where it can be terminated.

While the short-term financial rewards tend to outweigh the threat of eviction for many sub-letters, some say they mitigate their risk by not subletting their apartments too often.

"In many ways it does discourage me as I'm obviously not looking to go to court.“ Mary Vincent, a hostel employee, said. "So I just keep my renting at a minimum. Just when I think, 'hey, it's busy in Berlin, maybe I can make half my rent in a few days.'“

Frenyo had similar thoughts.

"I don't do it too much. Just 1-2 weeks every 1-2 months. When I'm travelling anyway. It's a good way to pay flights, she said. "if I had a lot of money, I wouldn't do it. It's strenuous to keep having to pack away your private things.“

That a tenant advertises his apartment online after being warned by his landlord not to do so is enough grounds for eviction, even without the apartment actually being occupied by Airbnb users, according to the court press release on its decision.

This would be an "unmistakeable“ expression of the intent to carry on renting the apartment to tourists "against the will of the landlord“.

Naming someone else in an Airbnb ad as the "host" for the apartment is also unlikely to get the tenant off the hook, as the courts would view simply view the third party as an extension of the tenant.

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Harsh rules or no, these are still dependent on a landlord's ability to enforce his contract. Vincent said she knows what she would say if she is ever confronted.

“I've decided my landlord isn't exactly the most responsible or responsive person either”, she said. “If he ever said anything, I would say, 'well, why didn't you answer my emails about how our front door doesn't close and people stealing mail?'”

The court ruling follows the sharpening of short-term rental regulations to deal with a housing shortage late last year, which required those wishing to rent their apartments to tourists to register with the Berlin Senate, who would then grant or deny permission to do so.

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