Verdict: Airbnb must disclose landlord data if there is any suspicion

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The apartment broker Airbnb has to give the data of private landlords to authorities if there is an initial suspicion of misuse. The Berlin Administrative Court dismissed the Irish company’s action against it. Because of the fundamental importance of the case, the appeal to the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg was admitted.

Anyone wanting to rent out their apartment to holiday guests in Berlin has needed a permit since 2014. The law has been tightened further, due to the lack of living space, the regulations are to become even stricter. The Tempelhof-Schöneberg district office suspected that the ban on misappropriating apartments was being violated because advertisements had no or incorrect registration numbers or the business data of commercial landlords could not be recognized.

In December 2019, the district office obliged Airbnb to transmit the names and addresses of numerous providers and the exact location of their quarters. Airbnb had argued that the district office’s decision was unlawful and that the information requested was unconstitutional. In addition, it is required to violate Irish data protection law. As a collective query, the notification does not relate to an individual case, and there is also no concrete risk of misappropriation.

A registration number was introduced by law precisely because of the increasing anonymous offer of holiday apartments on the Internet, explains the court. As a rule, it applies to landlords who offer their apartment as a holiday home for a short time. The number should be proof of a legal offer on the Internet.

The court ruled that there were no constitutional objections to the decision. It is true that the fundamental right to informational self-determination is interfered with, but this is proportionate, sufficiently determined and standardized. The applicant could not rely on Irish data protection law. The so-called country of origin principle cannot be applied here.

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The district office’s request for information concerns bundled individual cases, precisely designated accommodations and landlords. Because of the anonymity of the offers on the platform operated by Airbnb, there are only few requirements for a request for information. The necessary sufficient reason for this is given if the provider did not show a registration number or an obviously incorrect registration number in their advertisements or if commercial leasing did not result from the offer itself, in particular by providing business data.

According to a survey by the dpa from the beginning of April, Berlin districts have imposed fines in the millions against providers of unapproved holiday apartments since 2018. In seven districts alone, the total was 3.4 million euros.


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