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

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.

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.

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

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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