The Legal Pitfalls of Holiday Rentals in Germany

Find out here what pitfalls vacation rentals present and how you can safely rent in the future.

Vacation rentals and the ban on the misuse of property

Ban on misuse: What is behind it?

For you as a landlord/-lady of a vacation home, one thing is crucial: the intensive examination of the legal regulations on vacation rentals. However, these are becoming increasingly complex. One reason for this is the increased number of tourists worldwide.

Holidaymakers are no longer only drawn to trendy metropolises like Barcelona or Berlin; even tranquil villages like Hallstatt in Austria are – involuntarily – becoming tourist hotspots. As a result, the residents of many towns are worried about the atmosphere and quality of life in their town, but above all about the loss of precious living space due to the increased conversion of private apartments into holiday accommodations.

To protect residential space, some German cities have introduced a ban on the misuse of housing, which, among other things, restricts the renting of accommodation to tourists. In Berlin, for example, registration with the responsible district office has been required since 1 August 2018, once an apartment is repeatedly used to accommodate holidaymakers for days or weeks at a time. If the vacation home is the main residence used by the owner and more than 49% of the apartment is rented out, the responsible district office must also issue a permit. Similar regulations now apply in many other German cities. You can find an overview of the misuse of residential space for temporary furnished living here.


What happens if I do not comply with the legal requirements?

In Berlin, the ban on the misuse of property came into force in 2014 and was further strengthened with an amendment to the law in spring 2018. 

Many cities are taking decisive action against unauthorised short-term rentals of holiday homes. Authorities are expanding their departments, and controls are being tightened. Neighbours disturbed by the constant moving in and out of changing tenants can also report suspicions of illegal holiday rentals to the responsible authorities. If an illegal rental is discovered, the owner can be fined up to 500,000 euros

Some of the recipients of these fines went to court and tried to take legal action against the fines – even though a lengthy legal dispute with the responsible housing authority can cost a great deal and sometimes take years.

Is the ban on misuse just the beginning?

Further tightening of regulations on holiday rentals cannot be ruled out as major cities around the world try to curb the number of holiday rentals and reclaim the misused apartments for the regular housing market.

For example, the period of use of the primary residence for renting to holidaymakers could be further restricted. For example, in London: In the British capital, private individuals are only allowed to rent out their apartments for a maximum of 90 days per year without official permission.

Limiting the total number of holiday rentals in cities is also conceivable, for example in German city centres. While in Lübeck the decision to ban holiday rentals on the Old Town Island has been postponed for the time being, politicians in Lindau, Bavaria, agreed to a temporary restriction in February 2020.


Our tips for safe rental

How can I rent out my holiday home safely?

From planning permission to business registration to insurance cover: renting out a holiday home is subject to a variety of laws, requirements and regulations. To avoid problems and remain on the safe side legally, you should first familiarise yourself with the current legal regulations.

In addition to the general regulations for renting out holiday apartments, you should also familiarise yourself with the regulations on misuse in your region. Since the federal states were given legislative authority in the area of special-purpose rental law in 2006, there have been local differences in this regard.

Check to see if you need to apply for a registration number to rent out your apartment to holidaymakers and, if necessary, obtain an official permit for your holiday apartment.

You can usually obtain all the necessary information regarding municipal regulations by searching the web or by contacting the relevant authority, such as the Office of Housing (Amt für Wohnen), the building Inspectorate (Bauaufsichtsamt) or the District Office (Bezirksamt). Alternatively, you should consult a lawyer if you have any legal questions or concerns.

Temporary living as an alternative to holiday rentals?

While the regulations for renting out holiday homes are becoming stricter, temporary furnished housing has established itself as a housing concept in the course of the current social development towards a more mobile and flexible lifestyle. Temporary rentals are characterised by the fact that tenants move their place of residence to another location for a limited period of time – for example, for professional reasons. In this case, the apartment is used for living and not for accommodation and therefore does not fall under the ban on misuse.

Find out here how you can rent out your apartment to verified professionals or students for a rental period of one month and become a Wunderflats landlord/-lady today.


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.

Person to contact
Dr. Marcus Georg Tischler



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