Airbnb and others Short-term rental of apartments in Bonn has become less attractive
Bonn · The city has put a stop to excessive short-term apartment rentals in Bonn by now requiring that providers report these rentals to authorities. It is not yet clear whether this will relieve the housing market. Special rules apply to university students.
If you are looking for a place to stay in Bonn for a few days or weeks, you don't have to move into a hotel. Numerous commercial and private providers rent out furnished rooms or entire apartments and houses to strangers. From a guest suite called "Der Schuppen" to a comfortable apartment in the Altstadt, much is available.
The Airbnb portal lists over 1,000 offers in a search for the first weekend of March. However, the number is deceptive, because the website operator has included a the radius around the city which is quite generous. It includes all offers between Rheinbach, Remagen, Eitorf and Alfter. If one zooms in closer, there are still around 150 accommodations remaining for the selected date.
City created statute for reporting short-term rentals
In the past, the entire market for short-term rentals such as Airbnb appeared unclear to political decision-makers. This was a thorn in the side of many municipalities, including the city of Bonn. After all, permanent short-term rentals are not available for the regular housing market. And the housing market is notoriously tight in Bonn.
For this reason, the city council passed a statue called the "Zweckentfremdungssatzung" on July 1 of last year which stipulates that housing may now only be used for other purposes (such as short-term rentals) with municipal approval. "Short-term rentals are a factor in the short supply in Bonn's housing market," says Anja Ramos. She heads the Office for Social Welfare and Housing. She says that the notification requirement, as well as the legal deadlines, will now make it possible to make the previously hidden market visible and make short-term rentals much less attractive.
At the end of the year, the transitional period during which apartment owners had to report their rental properties to the city or via the NRW construction portal has now expired. Now the fog is clearing in this gray market. "As of January 31, a total of 379 housing identification numbers (housing IDs) had been issued, eight of them with student privileges," reports deputy city spokesman Marc Hoffmann. These apartments may now be advertised on websites such as Airbnb, fewo-direkt or booking.com, stating the housing ID, and may be rented out briefly for a maximum of 90 days a year.
Special rules apply for students
A special rule of 180 days applies to (university) students with appropriate proof. It is assumed that they may not need their apartment or room during the semester break. However, only eight students have made use of the regulation so far. Not affected are vacation apartments that are offered commercially and are licensed as such. A license number is also required to rent them out, but they may be rented out without time restrictions.
As Hoffmann says, applications are reviewed automatically if they are not submitted by students, who must provide proof. To that extent, applications are only rejected if applicants provide erroneous or inconclusive information. So far, 97 applications have been rejected exactly for those reasons, he said. Only in two cases did the city administration not approve a short-term rental for other reasons. There was no surge in applications at the end of the year shortly before the legal deadline expired.
Only eleven further applications are currently pending at the Office for Social Welfare and Housing. The administration cannot say whether the new regulation has caused many landlords to withdraw from short-term rentals or whether they continue to offer their apartments illegally without a license.
In fact, the new regulation makes regular short-term rental of apartments unattractive. Providers must keep an occupancy log and report each individual rental no later than ten days after the rental begins. This has not yet become routine for all providers, Hoffmann describes initial observations by the administration, which has set up a special department to deal with misuse. There is a risk of fines and revocation of the permit.
Providers such as Airbnb are also apparently worried about their image of legality. Through its press agency, the company specifically tells the General-Anzeiger, according to an initial report, that since the beginning of 2023, only advertisements with a complete imprint and a license number will be accepted. "Advertisements that do not meet these requirements will be removed from the platform," the agency head writes to the GA.
Meanwhile, Anja Ramos at the Social Welfare Office warns against exaggerated expectations from the new regulation. After all, she says, the scarce supply of affordable housing in the city is also determined by a variety of other factors. She cites the decline in rent-controlled apartments and vacancies as examples. Nevertheless, she believes that "in conjunction with other housing policy measures, strengthening the Housing Department with the Housing Inspectorate can make an important contribution to providing the population with housing offered on reasonable terms.”
Original text: Martin Wein
Translation: Carol Kloeppel