Frankfurt agrees on tight rules for letting out flats through Airbnb

The chief and finance committee in Frankfurt voted by a large majority in favour of AirBnb guidelines on Thursday which regulate the conditions under which landlords can rent their apartments out to tourists in the financial hub.

Frankfurt agrees on tight rules for letting out flats through Airbnb
Keys to an Airbnb flat. Photo: DPA

Flats may now only be rented to travellers for a maximum of eight weeks per year – up from the initially planned six weeks, reports Frankfurter Rundschau (FR), adding that this can only be done with permission from the city.

While the municipal authorities had proposed a maximum of six weeks in February, the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Green party had jointly requested that the guidelines be loosened.

“The opportunity must be created for Frankfurt's citizens to rent out their homes without red tape,” Alexander Schwarz, CEO of Airbnb Germany, told FR last month.

A liberal attitude to sub-letting would also befit the city's cosmopolitan nature, as last year almost 200,000 travellers from Frankfurt themselves rented out their flats through Airbnb, according to the CEO.

But the city’s planning department had a different view.

“Apartments are not a substitute for hotels,” Mike Josef, city department head, told FR in February.

In light of the housing shortage in Frankfurt, it is important to prevent the reallocation of housing space, Josef added.

Airbnb disagreed with this, stating that most of the landlords are private individuals and that if travellers are able to stay in landlords’ flats when they are not home, “living space is used efficiently.” 

In 2017, more than 63,000 guests stayed overnight in Frankfurt in accommodation arranged by Airbnb, according to the online booking platform. These visitors stayed on average 3.4 days.

Berlin introduced strict rules on Airbnb lets in 2016 to try and dampen the city's overheated rental market. The capital banned people from offering whole properties on Airbnb and equivalent platforms. Subsequent court rulings however allowed for exceptions to the law.

SEE ALSO: Berlin cracks down on Airbnb rentals to cool market


Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.