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Berlin housing market under pressure from thousands of illegal holiday flats

Berlin housing market under pressure from thousands of illegal holiday flats

If nothing changes, Berlin will soon outgrow its housing market.

Berlin’s already tense housing market is being put under pressure by illegal holiday flats, a new study found.

The study, conducted by Berlin Mitte’s district council, found three times as many holiday flats as officially licensed offered on online portals.

Some 23,000 holiday flats are on offer throughout the German capital, but only 5,682 are registered with the responsible district councils; Mitte, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg top the list of districts with the highest number of illegal flats.

Currently home to 3.4 million people, numbers are expected to rise to 3.6 million citizens over the next two decades; to cope with the numbers, experts estimate that between 12,000 and 15,000 homes will have to be built each year.

In May 2014 the city council passed new laws in a bid to help with making more affordable homes available to the locals.

With the change, home owners were no longer allowed to use their properties for commercial purposes: GP surgeries, offices and other non-residential renters now need to be located in non-residential properties.

Owners renting their homes out to travellers could apply for an extension of two years before their case will have to be decided again; while the council expected some illegal holiday homes, German media reports the sheer number left them stumped.

Berlin Mitte council is now planning to share the data with the other districts; it’s unclear how the councils will proceed, but owners breaking the law can be fined €50,000 (£35,228.48, $54,384).