While billions of people around the world were celebrating as the clock struck 12 heralding in January 1, 2014, many in Germany's capital, Berlin, were groaning as a new law requiring residents to apply for a permit in order to rent out their apartments to visitors to the city came into effect.
The new ordinance aims to open up around 12,000 apartments reportedly used as holiday homes for rental and to prevent rents from skyrocketing even further than they have already increased in the last few years. Those residents who don't adhere to the new rules by getting a permit will be subject to hefty fines.
Still, while some may lament the changes, others are applauding the decision made by Berlin's senate. According to an article written by Germany's news magazine Der Spiegel at the time the decision was made, the national hotel association welcomed the new law.
The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) had complained that rentals in residential properties were depriving hotels of around 87 million nightly bookings per year, according to the magazine.
"This means that the hotel industry loses about a quarter of the roughly 370 million stays a year in German," said Willy Weiland, president of the organisation, although Spiegel said the figure could be exaggerated.
Berlin is not the first city to have taken such steps. According to Spiegel, in Munich, anyone found privately renting rooms in their apartment could face a fine of up to €50,000, while residents in Hamburg, San Francisco, London and Paris also risk such action for renting out their homes, or rooms therein.
Meanwhile, in New York, anyone attempting to rent their apartments for less than 30 days can pay thousands in fines if they are caught, with websites such as the controversial peer-to-peer rental service, Airbnb, being demanded to hand over the details of offenders to the authorities.
The laws, put in place in an attempt to target rent increases, have also been put in place as a result of pressure being places on city councils from the tourism industry and it cannot be argued that such changes will help hotels reclaim bookings from private renters.
Still, those likely to be most affected be the changes are the tourist visiting the cities imposing such fines in both Europe and the United States, as their choices on where to stay while they are away decrease.
It has been reported that many cities have found the law difficult to enforce and so it is difficult to tell how much will really change in Berlin, as with the places where the regulation was already enforced. This means visitors will still be left with weighing up both the advantages and disadvantages of renting a room in an apartment with those of staying in a hotel.This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Louise writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com