Berlin cracks down on Airbnb rentals
The German city of Berlin has started to restrict private property rentals through Airbnb and similar short-term letting services.
The controversial move is designed to keep housing affordable for local residents.
Thousands of landlords let out spare rooms or entire apartments on apps such as Airbnb, Wimdu and 9Flats.
Often landlords seek to fill a short-term vacancy and earn some additional money, but it has proved profitable for people to rent out entire apartments to tourists all year round.
But critics warn that the practice reduces an already limited supply of rental property and drives up rent for local tenants.
From 1 May, a new law known as Zweckentfremdungsverbot - prohibition of improper use - will take effect.
The law, which allows homeowners to rent out only spare rooms rather than entire homes, was passed in 2014 but included a two-year transition period that has now elapsed.
Andreas Geisel, Berlin's head of urban development said it was "a necessary and sensible instrument against the housing shortage in Berlin."
Those caught breaking the new law could be fined up to 100,000 euros (£78,500).
However, critics say the law serves the hotel industry rather than residents.
- From the section Technology