Regulations Vary Considerably from Region to Region
Depending on the city and federal state, there are individual regulations for the misappropriation of living space, which determine what is permitted and what is prohibited. The fines can be very high in some cases. The maximum rate in Lower Saxony, for example, is €50,000, but in Berlin and Munich, it can be up to €500,000.
The Berlin Law on Misappropriation of Living Space
In Germany, Berlin has one of the strictest laws on this subject. Since 2014, the city has been imposing fines on the misappropriation of living space. In the past year, Berlin has raised about € 2.6 million in this way.
Private individuals may accommodate holiday guests in their main apartment throughout the year, provided that it is also used as an apartment by the provider. In secondary homes, however, the maximum duration of accommodation is only 90 days.
The use of living space for other purposes requires registration and permission in the entire city area.
Hamburg’s Housing Protection Act
The Hamburg Housing Protection Act states that living space must always be in a condition that allows it to be used for residential purposes without restrictions. This also has an effect on the possible use as a holiday home.
Subletting as a holiday home is only permitted in Hamburg if it is the landlord’s main apartment and they live in the apartment for at least 6 full months in the year. Short-term subletting of less than half of the apartment is permitted throughout the year if the provider also occupies it all year round.
Unlike in Berlin, no registration is required for these types of subletting.
Bavaria is also Taking Action Against the Appropriation of Living Space
The Bavarian state capital of Munich is currently taking action against owners of misappropriated apartments, too. The permanent leasing of living space as a holiday home is prohibited.
It is permitted to rent the entire apartment for a total of 8 weeks per year if the provider otherwise lives in the apartment. Alternatively, apartment owners may let a small share of the living space to guests. This includes, for example, the 10m² large former children’s bedroom of a 90m² flat.
The responsible authorities checked more than 21,000 homes last year. About 300 are now available again for renting for residential purposes. However, with 77 apartments, only the smallest proportion was holiday homes. In 120 flats, on the other hand, vacancies were reported, while about 100 were used commercially without permission.