Monday, February 17, 2014

Airbnb troubles: Termination without notice legal in Germany?

Heidelberg - home of Germany's latest Airbnb court case (1)
Airbnb and its German clones Windu and 9flats are popular in Germany. Today the local newspaper Rhein-Neckar Zeitung (RNZ) reports about a pending court case at the Heidelberg district court that has the potential to be of fundamental significance for Airbnb's user base.

“We feel thoroughly cheated” the newspaper quotes the landlord:

He had rented a 55 square meter tworoom (not: two bedroom) apartment to a scientific staff of the University of Heidelberg. They believed that everything would be fine until they learned from neighbors of the sub-lease to tourists. When the owner discovered the advertisement on Airbnb, they could not believe their eyes:

Between May 2012 and September 2013 52 tourists had posted reviews of the apartment. These revealed that up to four adults and four children staying at the small apartment at the same time.

When the owner learned of the abuse he terminated the lease without notice and then filed a claim before the district court for eviction. The conciliation hearing failed. The tenant took the position that the dismissal was invalid because he had previously need to be warned. The landlord’s lawyer, who represents the plaintiffs, on the other hand sees the case quite different. The sub-lease to the tourists is not covered by the lease, and therefore the termination of the lease without notice lawful.

Just this January the Federal Court ruled that a transfer of residence to tourists is not covered by default by a permission to sublet. However, im this case, the tenant was previously warned by the landlords. The new case in Heidelberg centers around the question if the termination without notice was lawful and therefore the process has a good chance to be of fundamental significance for Airbnb, its clones and especially and foremost their German user base.

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