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An overview of the misuse of residential space in Germany

Which regulations on the subject of misuse are important for you as a landlord/-lady of temporary furnished apartments? We answer the most frequently asked questions.

Finding an affordable apartment has become difficult in many places, especially in big cities and popular university towns. In order to make more living space available to the population again, many municipalities in Germany have a ban on misuse (Zweckentrfremdung). This ban takes effect when apartments are used for purposes other than for permanent living, for example as holiday homes. However, renting out furnished apartments for a limited period of time, such as with Wunderflats, is possible in compliance with the misuse ban if you follow certain guidelines set by your municipality.

In this article, we summarise which regulations on the subject of misuse are important for you as a landlord of temporary furnished apartments and answer the most frequently asked questions.

     

     

    What does misuse mean? 

    When living space is used for purposes other than permanent habitation, this is called misuse (Zweckentfremdung). Misuse of housing is prohibited in many German cities and municipalities. The ban is intended to ensure that sufficient housing is available to the population at reasonable terms.

    Misuse includes in particular:

       

        • the use of residential space for exclusively commercial or professional purposes, for example as an office, practice or shop

        • rental by the day or by the week to tourists, commercial room rental and use as a contractor’s accommodation.

        • long-term, speculative vacancies

        • the demolition or dereliction of dwellings

        • if a dwelling is structurally altered to such an extent that it is no longer suitable for habitation

       

      Renting out temporary furnished apartments on Wunderflats does not constitute a misuse, since the apartments are used for actual living. The decisive factor is the reason for residence and the fact that the tenants can temporarily relocate life to the apartment and also register as residents with the authorities (Anmeldung). Please provide your tenants with confirmation of residence for temporary housing (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung). The relocation is justified by the reason for residence of your tenants who, for example, are only moving for a limited period for a temporary occupation. 

      In addition, depending on the municipality, there may be further requirements to consider for temporary housing, which we have summarised for you below.

      Who regulates the misuse?

      With the amendment of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in 2006, the legislative competence for the area of misuse of housing was transferred to the federal states. Since then, almost all federal states have enacted or are currently considering legislation to prohibit the misuse of housing or to protect housing. 

      On the basis of these Land laws, cities and municipalities with a tight housing market can in turn enact their own ordinances or bylaws to regulate the misuse. This means that the legal situation can differ between federal states and also between municipalities. These municipal regulations can be adapted continuously and changed by the municipalities at any time. We at Wunderflats can help you keep track of these regulations in your municipality/city.

      As a rule, the use of residential space for other purposes must be registered with the respective competent authority and a permit must be applied for. Permission can usually only be granted in exceptional cases if a public interest or a private interest worthy of protection outweighs the public interest in maintaining the living space. Such a public interest exists, for example, if the living space is to be rented to a kindergarten. A private interest worthy of protection would be, for example, if your economic survival is endangered by the ban on misuse. In many cities, the granting of a permit is dependent on the creation of adequate replacement housing or the payment of compensation.

      How do authorities find out about misused apartments?

      Depending on the municipality, the authorities learn about the suspicion of misused housing in different ways. In some cities, such as Berlin and Munich, there are reporting platforms that can be used by neighbors, for example. In addition, the municipalities often employ special staff who specifically search for misused housing via platforms such as Airbnb and check suspicious apartments.

      What happens if regulations on misuse are violated?

      Unauthorized misuse is an administrative offence that can be punished with a fine. The amount of the fine can vary significantly depending on the municipality and can be up to €500,000 per violation or residential unit. 

      Furthermore, if the municipality has determined that the dwelling has been misused, usually it must be made available again for permanent living. 

      How does Wunderflats deal with misuse?

      Apartments offered through Wunderflats are not intended for holidays or short stays. Wunderflats is about actual living, or more precisely, temporary living in furnished apartments. As a landlord/-lady, with Wunderflats you offer people the opportunity to move to another place for a certain period of time and to find a comfortable home there. If you comply with the regulations of your municipality, this type of rental does not constitute a misuse of living space.

      At Wunderflats, we work with you as the landlord to ensure that all criteria for actual living are met. Depending on the city, the minimum rental period is between one and six months. Even if no minimum rental period is prescribed by law in your city, we recommend renting out your apartment for at least one full month and agreeing on a monthly rent. For this purpose, we will provide you with a rental agreement that has been checked by a lawyer and the authorities. This agreement is limited to the duration of the residence of your tenants. We check and verify the reason for the residence of your potential tenants in order to exclude tenancies for tourist purposes. In addition, our General Terms and Conditions ensure that your tenants can register their residence in the apartment with the registration office of the municipality and are allowed to label the letterbox and doorbell.

      What regulations apply in my city? 

      The regulations on misuse vary from place to place. You can usually find out whether there is a ban on misuse in your municipality by doing a search on the net or by contacting the responsible authority: for example, at the Office for Housing (Amt für Wohnen), the Building Inspectorate (Bauaufsicht) or the District Office (Bezirksamt).

      We have compiled an overview of the regulations on the misuse of temporary housing for the seven largest German cities as well as for Bonn and Aachen on our blog in German. If you have any questions about this or would like the information in English, please feel free to contact realestate@Wunderflats.com 

         

          • Misuse of housing in Berlin

          • Misuse of housing in Hamburg

          • Misuse of housing in Frankfurt am Main

          • Misuse of housing in Stuttgart

          • Misuse of housing in Düsseldorf

        Renting furnished properties for a limited period of time with Wunderflats 

        Tens of thousands of landlords are already using Wunderflats to rent out their furnished apartments in a way that meets their intended use. With Wunderflats, you can rent out your furnished apartment safely and easily for temporary living, compared to short-term holiday rentals. You can also find a good comparison of Airbnb vs. Wunderflats here: Rental platforms in comparison.

        List your furnished apartment on Wunderflats now.

        Please note: The contents of this page have been prepared for your information and the law firm Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek has been commissioned to check the legal correctness of the German version of this article. However, this posting does not replace legal advice. For legal advice in your specific case, please contact a law firm. With more than 400 lawyers, tax advisors and notaries at eight locations in Germany, the law firm Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek can quickly help you. Contact Dr. Marcus Georg Tischler, our Wunderflats contact person on site. He will connect you with the appropriate expert in the law firm who will take care of your individual concern when you submit a request.

        Contact:
        Dr. Marcus Georg Tischler

         

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