The Berlin Mitte district office has achieved a victory in court that should give hope to many people looking for housing. As a result, several thousand apartments could become available and be rented out to travelers on platforms such as Airbnb. Due to a ruling by the Berlin-Brandenburg Higher Administrative Court (OVG), the Berlin Mitte district office can convert illegal holiday apartments back into rental apartments.

Actually, this should have been possible for years thanks to a law that has been in place for years. Apartments that are rented out as holiday homes should become available again as a result of the regulation and be available to all rent seekers. However, the so-called Misappropriation Prohibition Act (ZwVbG) reached its limits in various cases – such as in the case now decided.

In this specific case it was an apartment building with a total of 37 apartments in Berlin Mitte. The owner argued that the apartments had been holiday apartments years before the regulation and were covered by the grandfathering. According to the law, the ban only applies from the moment the law was passed. According to the owner, there was no misappropriation. The Mitte district office, however, was of the opinion that the apartments were precisely those that fell under the law as living space worthy of protection.

Due to the new OVG ruling (file number: OVG 5 B 5/22), the owners of illegal holiday apartments can now also be held responsible retroactively. Crucial point: Holiday apartments that were legal before the law remain legal as holiday apartments. However, if they were already illegal before they came into force, they will not be granted grandfathering status – as in the original case of the 37 apartments.

District mayor Stefanie Remlinger (Greens) spoke on the RBB broadcaster of a “groundbreaking fundamental judgment”. In the Mitte district, work has already begun on old cases, as the “Taz” summarizes.

There are 1,700 similar cases known in Mitte alone, some with several residential units. Remlinger estimates in an interview with RBB that two thirds of these cases would now have to be “made available to the normal rental market again”. Remlinger added that tens of thousands of apartments across Berlin were probably affected.

Sources: RBB, Berlin Mitte District Office, “Taz”, ZwVbG