A court in Berlin ruled that people with second homes in Berlin may rent out their flats to tourists in a decision that runs counter to a newly implemented ban on Airbnb-style rentals.
Berlin officials passed the ban, which went into effect in May, due to concerns about limited available housing space and rising rental prices. It forbids property owners and tenants from renting out whole flats or houses to tourists through websites like Airbnb.
Those who violate the ban face fines of up to €100,000, although hundreds have nevertheless been flouting the law.
But the court ruling on Tuesday opened up the possibility for people with only second homes in Berlin to rent out their flats to vacationers during the parts of the year when they live in their primary homes.
The three complainants who filed the challenge to the ban live in Rostock in northern Germany, Denmark and Italy.
The court said that renting out a secondary home that otherwise would not be used does not lead to a loss in living space.
“In terms of the availability of housing in the city, it doesn't make a difference whether a secondary home is rented out or empty while the owner is away,” the court stated, adding that the three owners who complained did not show evidence of abuse of the law in wanting to rent out their Berlin homes.
Berlin's ban on the use of sites like Airbnb to rent out whole flats has been met with contention since it first came into force, with dozens of suits being filed against it.
The first legal challenge was shot down in June after four individuals tried to argue that the law ran counter to property ownership rights.