Why do people prefer AirBnB over couch surfing

Private apartments instead of hotels - sharing offers in Cologne are increasing

"The number of overnight stays in the entire gray market is estimated at six million overnight stays per year and thus similar to the commercial sector recorded by the hotel industry," says Christina Gehlen from KölnTourismus. The term “gray market” includes “providers like“ Airbnb ”,“ Wimdu ”and“ 9flats ”but also people who do couch surfing or visit friends and relatives in Cologne”, said Gehlen.

Similar to booking a hotel over the Internet, private individuals can advertise and book accommodations worldwide on so-called community marketplaces such as “Airbnb”, “9flats” or “Wimdu” with a personal login. Users can choose the time period and price themselves. In Cologne, for example, “Airbnb” offers a place in a student flat for 10 euros and a penthouse with a view of Cologne Cathedral for 800 euros a night. “We estimate the offer at 3,500 such advertisements. Cologne is in fourth place behind Berlin, Hamburg and Munich with such an offer, ”says Gehlen.

From rented apartments to private hotels

According to the rent index of the city of Cologne, the average rent for a 60 square meter apartment including ancillary costs is around 11.20 euros per square meter or 8,064 euros per year. A night in private accommodation costs an average of 73 euros through the provider “Airbnb”. If such an apartment is rented exclusively through this provider, from the landlord's point of view, the living space has already generated the marginal costs after 110 days and can be used for other purposes 255 days a year.

In order to reduce the attractiveness of the so-called "sharing economy" - the systematic mutual provision of rooms - and thus to regulate the commercial use of private apartments, the city of Cologne passed the so-called housing protection statute on June 17, 2014. This is intended to prevent living space from being withdrawn from the market and misused. A permit from the city of Cologne is therefore necessary in order to permanently rent private accommodation as a holiday home to tourists.

Tourists instead of lodgers

The Cologne student Sammy prefers renting his room in a shared apartment via community marketplaces to the open-ended sublease contract. For him, the focus is on variety. "You get to know different people who tell you something about life outside of Cologne," says Sammy. An Italian Erasmus student, a midwife and a self-employed T-shirt printer from Mallorca have already been his guests. “I love getting to know different cultures,” adds Sammy.

Jürgen Becher, press spokesman for the Cologne rental association, describes the fact that the constant change of sub-tenants also has a downside: "In the summer we often had cases where tenants felt disturbed because apartments in the house were rented to tourists". Noise nuisance, pollution in the stairwell and disturbance of the night's sleep are reasons for the complaints within the tenant association. “But that has actually subsided again,” continues Becher, “I'm assuming that the problem or the rental to tourists in Cologne is not that big”. He said nothing about the housing protection statute or a ban on misappropriation.

Stefan Ehrhardt |

07.03.2017 | 10:43:38 am

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