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No change to housing market: Bonn Airbnb hosts wait out the corona crisis

No change to housing market : Bonn Airbnb hosts wait out the corona crisis

Although tourists are staying away during the corona crisis, many apartments in Bonn are not returning to the housing market – as is the case in Paris or Dublin, for example. Here an expert explains why.

The corona crisis has not been easy for Sabine Kohlwey. She rents an apartment via the internet platform Airbnb. “From mid-March, I received one cancellation after another,” she says. Although she does not live from renting alone, she makes 800 to 1000 euros a month. She had to do without this money when the state of NRW banned tourists from staying in hotels and other accommodation on 18 March.

At the end of March, Airbnb announced that it would support its hosts with 250 million dollars (220 million euros). Kohlwey says she has not received any money to date. The same is reported by several Airbnb hosts in Bonn whom the GA has contacted. Two hosts said that they had received help. It had been a small amount, one of them wrote in a message on the platform, stating that he had suffered considerable financial loss and had not been able to rent his properties otherwise. Airbnb said that it could not comment on individual circumstances, but users can get in touch.

So what do you do when the tourists stop coming? Leave the apartment empty? Or rent it out permanently? “There aren't really any more apartments on the market than before corona,” says Roland Kampmeyer, who runs the real estate company of the same name. In other parts of the world, Airbnb hosts tried to rent out their flats and apartments on a long-term basis after tourism collapsed. Kampmeyer says that the lack of income would not affect many German hosts as much. Many would have other sources of income. Another factor is the rigid tenancy law in Germany. “It's difficult to get a tenant out of the apartment,” says Kampmeyer. This is why some of the German hosts have certainly refrained from renting out their Airbnb property to someone else.

The German website ‘Immobilien Scout’ has investigated the impact of the corona crisis on the property market worldwide. “In Dublin or Paris, many Airbnb apartments have returned to the regular market,” says spokesman Axel Schmidt. “In Germany, this was not evident to a similar extent at the beginning of the crisis.” In April, however, the company recorded a 63 percent increase in the "temporary housing" category in the top seven cities in Germany. Landlords can offer properties in this category for several months. But this trend has been declining since May. Immobilien Scout assumes that the short-term, additional offers have not initiated a turnaround in the housing market and will not solve the housing shortages in the big cities.

This is the subject of a study by Felix Mindl from the Institute for Economic Policy at the University of Cologne. He has investigated the influence of Airbnb on the housing market in Berlin. He found that over half of the apartments were rented for more than 90 days. "For me, this is a sign that we are dealing with a professional provider," he says. For many Airbnb landlords this is a good deal. The income would be significantly higher than with a regular rental (see box for information on the study). Mindl noted that Airbnb was responsible for 17 per cent of the rent increase in some city districts – i.e. for 17 euros out of a 100 Euro increase. Airbnb has not commented on Mindl's results. A spokeswoman stated in an e-mail that a study commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economics had shown “that there is no significant connection between Airbnb and housing shortages.” However, the study states it is clear "that potential housing deprivation is a local issue that cannot be mapped with the available data.”

Mindl has carried out a similar investigation for Cologne. “My analyses so far in Berlin and Cologne show that rents are rising in the neighbourhoods where there are particularly large numbers of Airbnb apartments rented by professional landlords,” says Mindl. "Whether this is also the case in Bonn would have to be investigated.” In Bonn, there are a lot of Airbnb offerings in the Nordstadt and Südstadt neighbourhoods (see map). The analysis company Airdna currently lists almost 500 Airbnb offerings in Bonn, 300 of which are entire apartments, the rest are rooms. The Airbnb spokeswoman writes: "The majority of hosts in Bonn are home-sharers who share their own homes with guests". This is also indicated by the data that Mindl collected for Bonn in January. However, first evaluations show that there are 80 providers who rent more than one apartment or room - in total they offer 230 of the 500 properties, which is almost half. Even though the corona restrictions have now been eased, host Kohlwey does not have many enquiries at the moment. She has guests on three days in July and August so far. “That worries me,” she says.

(Original text: Dennis Scherer, Translation: Caroline Kusch)