Berlin’s #boycottairbnb Targets Tourists and Rising Rents
The latest in a string of cities with grassroots movements against the adverse effects of online property rental services, some Berlin residents have hitched up to the #boycottairbnb wagon in a rather noticeable way. Over the last week, advertisements have been pasted on walls and over other ads throughout Berlin in protest of Airbnb’s perceived influence on rising rental prices in the city. The ads, in English to specifically address tourists, ask “Who pays for your holiday?” critiquing the service by transforming Airbnb’s logo in rather… painful ways.
Tweeting as the recently-created @AirbnbBoycott, the thus-far-anonymous group notes that
Without regulation people are misusing the site for mass capital gains, local people are hit hard socially and economically. #boycottairbnb
— BoycottAirbnb (@AirbnbBoycott) July 13, 2016
Though Berlin enacted a law in 2014 restricting the rental of private properties via Airbnb and similar services, piles of places remain available to rent via the popular apartment-sharing platforms. The two-year transition period allowed by the Zweckentfremdungsverbot ended on Saturday, and now restricts property owners to renting only rooms rather than entire apartments and homes.
— Mahmoud Kaabour (@MahmoudKaabour) July 16, 2016
— Mirko (@mirkchief) July 16, 2016
— Gert Jan Bakker (@isgoedhoor) July 14, 2016
Although not all Berliners agree that home-sharing services like Airbnb are the cause of rising rents or even evictions, this is far from the first time such services have come under fire. Airbnb’s incredible whiteness of being, controversial listing of rental properties in the occupied West Bank, and failed negotiations with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are only a few examples, and cities around the world are cracking down with regulations and restrictions.
- New York has put a series of restrictions and fines in place.
- Anaheim has banned short-term rentals in residential areas.
- In April, the city of Reykjavik ruled that all building residents must approve before an apartment is rented, and Iceland has passed legislation that would restrict such rentals to 90 days in a year.
- Airdna reports that it is effectively impossible to offer roomshares under the current regulations in Fort Worth, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Santa Barbara, Fresno, Atlanta, Denver, and Oklahoma City.
- Vancouver, BC is investigating how to regulate Airbnb-type rentals, proposing to have enforceable rules in place by December.
- Los Angeles has struck a deal where Airbnb will collect lodging taxes and hand them over to the city, but the company has sued its hometown of San Francisco over an ordinance requiring hosts to register with the city.
While the genitalia-influenced imagery is similar to what the internet was on fire about when Airbnb’s new logo was released, the folks behind Berlin’s #boycottairbnb movement are taking these remixes and using them in a powerful way. My suspicion is that these posters, if not the movement itself, may originate from an activist-oriented design firm… there’s just a lot of white space in there even for Germany. I’m not sure of the chances that it could even be supported by the city itself as an awareness program, but who knows? The introduction of these posters is almost too perfectly timed with the end of a two-year transition into new legislation; these Berliners are passionate and very well-organized.
I’d like to give this some time to play out before forming too many opinions, but at first glance I say gut gemacht.
Additional reading: For a seriously geek-awesome dive into the data surrounding Airbnb in Berlin, check out airbnbvsberlin.com